SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global stock markets were generally weaker Monday as an increasing diplomatic rift in the Gulf region unnerved investors and sent oil prices higher. Stocks in Qatar sank after four Arab nations cut diplomatic ties with the gas-rich nation over its support for Islamist groups. Investors have a busy week ahead, highlighted by the British election and Chinese export data.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.2 percent to 7,534.11 in early trading and France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.5 percent to 5,315.51. The German stock exchange was closed for a holiday. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street. Dow futures fell 0.1 percent and S&P futures also lost 0.1 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Asian stock markets finished mixed after trading within a narrow range. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended flat at 20,170.82 while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 2,368.62. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.2 percent to 25,862.99 and China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,091.66. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent to 5,754.90. Stocks in Taiwan and Indonesia and other Southeast Asian markets were mostly higher.
GULF RIFT: Qatar’s main stock index tumbled about 8 percent during early trading. Hours before stock markets in Doha opened, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar over its support for Islamist groups and its relations with Iran. The news sent the price of crude oil higher. Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad said it was suspending flights to Qatar.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 32 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $47.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 70 cents to settle at $47.66 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 26 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $50.21 per barrel in London.
CHINA DATA: A private survey showed that Chinese factory activity expanded modestly in May while the service sector improved at a solid pace. The Caixin China Composite Output Index was 51.5 last month, up slightly from April but the second-lowest reading since September 2016. On the other hand, the Caixin China General Services PMI was 52.8 in May, up 1.3 points from April, the highest reading in four months. Beijing will release its May export data on Thursday, which will be a gauge for global demand.
LONDON ATTACK: Britain suffered another terrorist attack on Saturday night, increasing uncertainty ahead of its general election Thursday. Reaction in Asian markets was largely muted, but investors were keen on the outcome of the upcoming election.
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “The market impact has been muted as dealers are becoming desensitized to the shocks knowing that whatever market impact occurs it diminishes quickly,” Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a daily commentary.
U.S. WATCH: The U.S. economy added fewer than expected jobs in May, a government report showed Friday. The report was a disappointment to investors, but did not change their expectation that the Federal Reserve would increase rates when policymakers meet later this month.
CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 110.48 yen from 110.41 yen while the euro fell to $1.126 from $1.128.