World markets cautious in the face of geopolitical risks
Dealers remain on edge over a brewing crisis following the attack that has damaged ties between the U.S. and Russia over Moscow’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Wednesday following a war of words between the two sides over the U.S. strike that Washington said was in retaliation for a Syrian chemical attack.
Risks are also rising on the Korean peninsula, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning Washington was prepared to “solve the problem” of North Korea on its own if Pyongyang’s sole major ally China refused to help rein in its neighbor’s nuclear ambitions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Trump to peacefully resolve mounting tensions as a U.S. naval strike group headed towards the region, a show of force that prompted the North to declare it was “ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”
The rising uncertainty has seen a surge in safe-haven investments, with the yen climbing to five-month highs against the dollar.
In late morning European deals, Frankfurt, London and Paris stocks all clawed their way higher ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend.
British investors also digested official data showing that the nation’s jobless total stands at its the lowest level in a decade.
In Asia, Tokyo stocks finished 1.0 percent lower.
Shanghai nudged 0.4 percent lower.
But Hong Kong stocks reversed earlier losses, gaining 0.9 percent. Sydney added less than 0.1 percent, while Singapore and Seoul each gained 0.2 percent.