Markets Stabilize as War Fears Ease
Asian stock markets were broadly higher on Thursday afternoon, reversing two days of a downtrend earlier this week as fears of a war between the United States and Iran eased. The gains in Asia followed a positive day on Wall Street on Tuesday, where all three major benchmark indexes closed higher. As of 2:19 p.m. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 2.32 percent, the biggest surge of the day after seeing the steepest losses earlier this week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 1.30 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.15 percent. The Shenzhen Composite gained 1.47 percent and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.73 percent.
Markets have been volatile since the escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States last weekend. Scattered retaliatory attacks from Iran this week have kept traders on edge, but it seems that the tensions are dying down, and that both countries have little interest in escalating the conflict.
Complicating matters to some extent is the crash of a Ukrainian Airlines plane in Iran on Wednesday, which is drawing attention after Iranian officials have refused to provide information from the plane’s black box, causing investigators to question whether the crash was somehow related to the fighting.
Oil markets were higher on Thursday, with both Brent and U.S. WTI futures heading higher. Brent crude futures were up 0.34 percent to $65.66 per barrel and U.S. WTI futures were up 0.37 percent to $59.83 per barrel. Gold prices were lower as traders fled the safe-haven asset, retreating from their high above $1,600 earlier this week. Gold futures were down 0.43 percent to $1,553.50 per ounce. Silver futures were also lower, down 1.44 percent to $17.905 per ounce.
A source familiar with the Pentagon has announced that the U.S. is prepared to deal with a more serious strike from Iran, if such a strike should come. At the moment, Iran has given no indications that a strike is coming, giving traders a moment to breathe and to seek riskier assets.