Oil Up, Stocks Down After Iran Attacks US Troops

BEIJING (AP) — Oil prices rose and global stock markets fell Wednesday after Iran fired missiles at U.S. bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of an Iranian general.

Brent crude futures, the benchmark for international oils, spiked more than $3 per barrel in London before retreating.

Stock markets in London and Frankfurt opened lower and Tokyo’s benchmark fell by nearly 2% before recovering some of its losses. Hong Kong and Shanghai also retreated.

A currency trader monitors  foreign exchange rates at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. (AP photo/Ahn Young-joon)

“Investors appear to be pricing for an all-out war,” Jingyi Pan of IG, a foreign-exchange broker, said in a report.

The Pentagon said Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at bases in Iraq used by U.S. troops. President Trump tweeted “All is well!”

Iran’s foreign minister described the missile firings as “proportionate measures in self-defense.”

Financial markets have been on edge about the U.S.-Iranian conflict and possible disruption of oil supplies since last week’s killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone in Baghdad.

Brent crude was up by 78 cents at $69.05. At the start of trading, it spiked by $3.48 to $71.75 before retreating.

Benchmark U.S. crude was up by 55 cents to $63.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had jumped $2.95 to $65.65 before settling back.

Higher prices for imported oil could push up inflation in economies including China and India, making it harder for central banks to support growth by easing monetary policy, said Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit, a London-based data services company.

In early trading, London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.6% to 7,525.48 and Frankfurt’s DAX shed 0.7% to 13,134.26. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.5% to 5,98049.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.2% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.4%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 index lost 0.3% in trading that closed before the Iranian attack. The Dow shed 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite slipped less than 0.1%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.6% to 23,204.76 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.9% to 28,087.92.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.2% to 3,066.89 and South Korea’s Kospi retreated 1.1% to 2,151.31.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.1% to 6,817.60 and India’s Sensex shed 0.2% to 40,770.06.

Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also retreated.

Before the latest attack, the rush by investors into safe assets had been abating.

Gold’s momentum eased Tuesday after touching its highest price in nearly seven years.

In currency markets, the dollar was little changed at 108.43 yen. The euro declined to $1.1139 from $1.1152.

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