ASIA PACIFIC – The stock markets in Asia dropped on Friday after US air strikes killed an Iranian general and heightened tensions in the regions. The US stock futures also fall while the prices of gold and oil went up.
Trading in major Asia Pacific markets were mixed after Iraqi media reported on Friday that Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed when their convoy was targeted by the US. In reaction, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised a harsh retribution.
The death of one of Iran’s military commanders was later confirmed by the Pentagon.
News of the air strike and the expected fallout saw the Nikkei 225 trading down by 0.76% or 181.10 points. It closed the day at 23,656.62. The Hang Seng Index is currently at 28,454.03. It’s down 0.31% or 89.49 points. The KOSPI also declined by 0.08% or 1.73 to 2,173.44.
South Korea’s stock market started the day on a high note. It was up by 1% right off the bat as investors were bolstered by Wall Street’s performance. But any confidence was wiped away by the events in the Middle East and caused the KOSPI to drop by more than 1%.
However, the Shanghai Index was trading up by 0.09% or 2.83 points to 3,033.03. The ASX 200 of Australia also gained today. It was up by 0.64% or 42.90 to close at 6,733.50.
Tapas Strickland, the National Australia Bank’s director of economics and markets, said that the impact of the strikes on the equity market is still unclear. He explained that while the reports of a top military general being taken out was significant, it will all depend on how Iran will retaliate.
AxiTrader’s chief strategist in Asia Stephen Innes said the air strike was “an aggressive show of force” that could trigger a war. He even cautioned others to prepare their “defensive strategy tool kit” as they’ll be needing it.
The increased tension in the Middle East has impeded an MSCI index rally. The MSCI’s broadest Asia-Pacific index hit an all-time high on Thursday, but it plummeted after the consequences of the air strikes were revealed.
European shares followed the Asian markets and traded lower. The pan-Euro region Stoxx 50 futures lost 0.66% to end at 3,757. DAX futures also dropped 0.6% to 13,303.
Wall Street returned in high spirits on Thursday, with its benchmarks breaking records on the first trading day of the year. However, US futures had a dismal performance after the air strikes. The S&P shed 0.84% while Dow Jones contracts slid down 0.7%. The Nasdaq 100 went down 0.8%.