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Banking Asian markets slide on alarm over Mideast tensions

Asian markets slide on alarm over Mideast tensions

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BANGKOK (AP) — Shares skidded in Asia on Monday, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index down 2% on concern over escalating tensions in the Middle East following the killing by a U.S. air strike of an Iranian general.

Shares also fell in most other Asian markets, apart from in China, where the Shanghai Composite index advanced following a report that Chinese officials plan to visit Washington next week for the signing of a trade deal with President Donald Trump.

Asian economies depend heavily on oil from the Middle East, and oil prices surged, with U.S. crude up 2.4% and Brent crude up nearly 2.7%. Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street on Friday, ended a five-week winning streak for the S&P 500 a day after the benchmark index hit its latest record high.

An Iranian general who replaced the leader killed by the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad vowed Sunday to take revenge as Tehran abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying.

Esmail Ghaani’s threat came as the backlash over the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani mounted, with Iraq’s parliament calling for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.

The Nikkei 225 index in Japan slid 2% to 23,195.88 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.7% to 28,261.56. In South Korea, the Kospi lost 1% to 2,154.24 and the S&P ASX 200 declined 0.3% to 6,716.20. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6% to 3,101.98. India’s Sensex slipped 1% to 41,038.19. Shares also fell in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $1.47, or 2.4%, to $64.52 per barrel. It jumped 3.1% to $63.05 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose $1.85 or 2.7% to $70.45 per barrel. It rose $2.35, or 3.5%, to close at $68.60 per barrel on Friday.

The dollar fell to 108.07 Japanese yen from 108.09 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1166 from $1.1159.

Technology, financial and health care stocks accounted for much of the selling Friday on Wall Street. Companies that rely on consumer spending also fell, along with airlines. Several energy stocks got a boost from higher oil prices. Defense contractors also notched gains.

President Donald Trump said the attack was ordered because Soleimani was plotting to kill many Americans. The Pentagon took steps to reinforce the American military presence in the Middle East in preparation for reprisals from Iran.

The air strike marks a major escalation in the conflict between Washington and Tehran, and investors sought safety in U.S. government bonds, sending their yields lower. The price of gold rose.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.7% to 3,234.85, ending with a 0.2% loss for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8%, to 28,634.88. The Nasdaq lost 0.8% to 9,020.77 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up 0.4% to 1,660.87.

The major stock indexes were coming off record highs after closing out 2019 earlier in the week with the best annual performance by the S&P 500 and Nasdaq since 2013.

The price of gold, which investors buy in times of uncertainty as a safe haven of value, rose $28.00, or 1.8%, to $1,580.30 per ounce.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.78% from 1.79% late Friday, a big move. Lower bond yields bring down the interest rates that banks charge for mortgages and other consumer loans, making them less profitable.

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