Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Business

U.S. stock futures up, oil down on hopes Syria attack a one-off

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – U.S. stock futures firmed and oil fell on Monday as investors wagered the latest U.S.-led strike on Syria would not escalate into a wider conflict, though Asian markets turned mixed as selling in bank shares slugged Chinese indexes.

EMini futures for the S&P 500 <ESc1> rose right from the start and were last up 0.4 percent, while Eurostoxx 50 futures <STXEc1> added 0.27 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei <.N225> rose 0.3 percent. Yet MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> slipped 0.4 percent as Chinese blue chips <.CSI300> skidded 1.7 percent.

Real estate and financial firms led the declines as Chinese authorities continue to tighten the screws on riskier types of financing in a bid to reduce systemic risks.

The early mood had been one of relief that the well-telegraphed attack on Syria had been limited in scale.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs, as Washington prepared to increase pressure on Russia with new economic sanctions.

But with President Donald Trump declaring mission accomplished, investors assumed the worst had been avoided.

“Trump was able to enforce his chemical weapons red line without crossing the threshold for Russian retaliation,” analysts at JPMorgan said in a note.

“Stocks were concerned about a prolonged and expanded U.S. campaign toward Assad and that doesn’t look probable.”

Safe-haven assets eased slightly in response, with yields on U.S. 10-year Treasury debt <US10YT=RR> up two basis points at 2.84 percent.

EYEING ABE

The dollar failed to hold its early gains on the yen and eased to 107.20 <JPY=>, though that was still up on last week’s low around 106.62.

Dealers were keeping a wary eye on Japanese politics after a survey showed support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had fallen to 26.7 percent, the lowest since he took office in late 2012.

Abe’s sliding ratings are raising doubts over whether he can win a third ,three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader in a September vote, or whether he might even resign before the party election.

The euro was steady at $1.2330 <EUR=>, while the dollar index eased a touch to 89.781 <.DXY>.

In commodity markets, gold was steady around $1,345.60 an ounce <XAU=>, still well short of last week’s peak at $1,365.23.

Oil prices slipped with Brent crude futures <LCOc1> off 69 cents at $71.89 a barrel, while U.S. crude <CLc1> fell 54 cents to $66.85.

Looking ahead, the U.S. earnings season swings into high gear this week with Thomson Reuters data predicting profits at S&P 500 companies increased by 18.6 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, their biggest rise in seven years.

Yet with expectations so high, bank shares ran into profit-taking on Friday after a batch of mixed results.

In Asia, China reports its gross domestic product for the first quarter on Tuesday, with market forecasts clustered around growth of 6.7 percent to 6.8 percent.

That pace would suggest China has largely sustained its growth momentum from late last year despite crackdowns on riskier financing and industrial pollution, even as investors fret over the risk of a trade war with the United States.

The United States reports retail sales later on Monday and there are around 15 Federal Reserve speakers in the diary for the week.

Also this week, the IMF will hold its spring meetings of central bankers and finance ministers in Washington.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Eric Meijer and Kim Coghill)

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