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Asian Stocks Inch Higher as Oil and Gold Ease on Mideast Tensions

Gold and the safe-haven dollar stepped back from recent highs, while crude oil prices retreated as concerns over a potential major supply disruption diminished.

In Asian markets, stocks regained some ground on Monday as worries about a broader conflict in the Middle East eased, prompting investors to shift back towards riskier assets.

Following Iran's statement on Friday that it had no plans for retaliation after an Israeli drone attack within its borders, tensions in the region appeared to de-escalate. This came after an unprecedented Iranian missile and drone assault on Israel days earlier.

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MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares climbed 0.93%, recovering from Friday's 1.8% decline triggered by news of the Israeli strike.

Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.48%, albeit underperforming due to declines in chip-sector shares, in line with U.S. counterparts from Friday. Meanwhile, Australia's benchmark rose 0.96%, and South Korea's KOSPI gained 1.04%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 2.26%, while mainland Chinese blue chips edged up 0.12%, reacting to new measures aimed at boosting overseas investment in China's technology sector announced on Friday.

Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist at Nomura Securities, noted the calming of investor concerns amidst indications that neither Israel nor Iran sought further escalation in the Middle East crisis.

However, Kamitani cautioned that expectations of potential Federal Reserve interest rate cuts and concerns regarding chip sector earnings could keep investors cautious.

Tensions in the Middle East remained on the radar as two Iraqi security sources reported at least five rockets launched from Iraq's Zummar town towards a U.S. military base in northeastern Syria on Sunday.

MSCI's world equities index, after its worst week since March 2023, was marginally up by 0.06% early on Monday.

In U.S. markets, stock futures rose 0.26% following a 0.88% decline for the S&P 500 on Friday.

Bond yields, which move inversely to prices, climbed back towards multi-month highs, with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reaching 4.658%.

The dollar index, measuring the currency against six major peers, dipped 0.07% to 106.03, off last week's five-month peak of 106.51.

Gold retreated 0.6% to $2,376.40 from near its all-time high of $2,431.29 last week.

Crude oil prices fell as traders refocused on fundamentals, with Brent futures down 0.6% to $86.75 a barrel and the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contract for May slipping to $83.02 a barrel.

Nomura's Kamitani suggested that despite signs of oil's uptrend potentially slowing, technical levels indicated the uptrend remained intact unless WTI broke below $80.

April 22, 2024 11:26 a.m. 4549

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