Stocks Retreat and Oil Rises on Mideast Conflict: Markets Wrap

Equities fell as investors responded to the threat of a weekend escalation in the Middle East conflict, driving oil and gold higher. Treasuries rose as yields at multiyear highs drew buyers.

(Bloomberg) — Equities fell as investors responded to the threat of a weekend escalation in the Middle East conflict, driving oil and gold higher. Treasuries rose as yields at multiyear highs drew buyers.

Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index slumped 0.6% to a seven-month low, while Asian stocks headed for their biggest weekly drop in two months. US equity futures steadied. Treasuries rose, led by gains in 10-year debt, after Federal Reserve Chairman Powell suggested the US central bank is inclined to hold interest rates steady again at its next meeting, while it watches key growth data. The dollar edged higher.

Oil traded above $90 a barrel and gold approached $2,000 an ounce after the Pentagon reported stepped-up drone attacks in Iraq and Syria, while an American destroyer intercepted cruise missiles fired toward Israel by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Israel’s military said it struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and hit Hezbollah assets in response to fire from Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group is based.

“The risk premium in crude has shot up again,” said Vandana Hari, founder of consultancy Vanda Insights. “As long as the Israel-Hamas tensions run high, crude will remain susceptible to further spikes on signs of an escalation.”

In other currency moves, the pound weakened after UK retail sales tumbled more than expected as unusually warm September weather discouraged shoppers from spending on winter clothes. Meanwhile, yen traders remain on tenterhooks as Japan’s finance minister Shunichi Suzuki said it was important the currency moved stably and in line with fundamentals, just as it approached 150 per dollar. 

Elsewhere, China’s record injection of extra cash may offer support after the nation’s stocks erased all gains seen during their massive reopening rally that took off late last year. The economy has been challenged this year by a lack of demand and a downturn in the property market. 

Still, Morgan Stanley advises against buying the dip in Chinese equities as market sentiment is likely to stay fragile while foreign fund outflow could persist near-term. Meanwhile, concerns around property sector lingered on with Country Garden Holdings Co. missing a dollar bond interest payment.

READ: China’s Country Garden Default Is All But Official, Restructuring Looms

Gains in Treasuries came ahead of more speeches from Federal Reserve officials after Powell said the Fed will proceed carefully with rate hikes, while citing evidence that policy isn’t “too tight.” Swaps trimmed the implied odds of another Fed rate increase to under 50%, and priced a start to cuts in July, compared with September previously. 

Key events this week:

  • Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker speaks, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:


  • The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.6% as of 9:30 a.m. London time
  • S&P 500 futures were little changed
  • Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.2%
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were little changed
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.5%
  • The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.5%


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
  • The euro was little changed at $1.0587
  • The Japanese yen was little changed at 149.90 per dollar
  • The offshore yuan was little changed at 7.3373 per dollar
  • The British pound fell 0.2% to $1.2114


  • Bitcoin rose 3.2% to $29,639.92
  • Ether rose 2.1% to $1,600.74


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined six basis points to 4.93%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at 2.93%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield was little changed at 4.67%


  • Brent crude rose 1% to $93.29 a barrel
  • Spot gold rose 0.4% to $1,983.27 an ounce

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

–With assistance from Yongchang Chin and Matthew Burgess.

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