Global shares were mixed in Asia on Monday, with Chinese benchmarks leading declines in Asia. The air strikes on Syria appeared to be having scant impact on trading, and oil prices fell back. Eyes were on Chinese GDP data due on Tuesday.
KEEPING SCORE: The FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.4 percent to 7,236.05 while Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent to 12,464.26. The CAC 40 in France was flat at 5,316.11. The future for the S&P 500 climbed 0.6 percent while the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was also up 0.6 percent, pointing to early gains on Wall Street.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3 percent to 21,835.53, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.6 percent to 30,315.59 and the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.5 percent to 3,110.65. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 percent higher to 2,457.49 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.2 percent to 5,841.30. Shares fell in Taiwan and Singapore and rose in Indonesia.
MIDDLE EAST: The leaders of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon said Sunday that Western airstrikes on their ally Syria, targeting its chemical weapons program, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country’s seven-year conflict. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” to describe the U.S.-led missile attack, while his aides stressed continuing U.S. troop involvement and plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the government of Bashar Assad.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “The markets are taking the surgical strike at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapon program in stride as traders had priced in this outcome with a high degree of probability,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary. He added, “With trade war and now Syria fatigue likely to set in, however, it’s best not to get too comfortable at this point as market risk sentiment swings will remain large this week.”
CHINA TRADE: The Trump administration on Friday targeted China and five other countries including allies Japan and South Korea for special monitoring for what the administration says are practices that are worsening America’s trade deficit. But the impact on financial markets in Asia was limited as it comes at a time of even harsher threats of U.S. penalty tariffs on China and other nations.
CHINA ECONOMY: Chinese shares declined ahead of the release of economic growth data that are expected to show the economy overshooting the official target to sustain a 6.8 percent annual pace in the first quarter of the year. Good news could lead regulators to tighten monetary policy, hurting share prices. Tuesday’s report of monthly figures for March, the first since the lunar new year holidays, will provide fresh insights into conditions across the world’s No. 2 economy.
ENERGY: Oil prices fell back from spikes last week on fears over an escalation of strife in the Middle East, with U.S. benchmark crude falling 91 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $66.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 32 cents on Friday to $67.39. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell $1.02, or 1.4 percent, to $71.56 per barrel.
CURRENCY: The dollar was trading at 107.21 yen, down from 107.36 yen late Friday. The euro edged higher, to $1.2366 from $1.2333.
– Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Monday, April 16:
1. U.S. Set To Slap New Sanctions On Russia
The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia over its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, the latest in a series of actions by both sides underscoring the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the Treasury Department will announce the new sanctions on Monday and insisted the U.S. has sent “a strong message” about the use of chemical weapons.
The fresh sanctions would be the third round enacted by the Trump administration against Russia in the past four weeks.
2. U.S. Stock Futures Point To Higher Open
U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open, as investors expected there would be no immediate military escalation in Syria following the weekend’s American-led strike.
The U.S., U.K. and France launched more than 100 missiles targeting Syrian government sites on Saturday in response to a suspected poison gas attack on April 7.
Suggesting that the military action would not be prolonged, President Donald Trump hailed the attack as “perfectly executed,” while adding that the military campaign to degrade the Assad regime’s chemical weapons capability had accomplished its goals.
U.S. stocks fell on Friday, as results from big banks failed to provide enthusiasm and fear of broader conflict in Syria further unnerved investors.
In Europe, the continent’s major bourses were little changed, with most sectors moving in opposite directions.
Earlier, in Asia, most markets in the region closed lower, led by declines in Hong Kong and mainland China over worries about the Hong Kong dollar.
3. Oil Prices Sink
Oil prices started the week in negative territory, amid indications that weekend missile strikes against Syria by the United States, France and Britain may be a one-off event.
A rise in U.S. drilling for new production also dragged on prices. Analysts and traders have recently warned that booming U.S. shale oil production could potentially derail OPEC’s effort to end a supply glut.
Both benchmarks last week saw their strongest weekly percentage performance since late July of last year, with WTI gaining about 8.6%, while Brent saw a weekly increase of 8.2%.
4. Bank of America, Netflix Kick Off Busy Week Of Earnings
A handful of Dow components report in the week ahead, along with dozens of S&P 500 companies, in what will be the first big week of the first-quarter earnings season.
Earnings growth is expected to be up about 18.5%, according to Thomson Reuters data, the highest in seven years, as results are likely to have been boosted by President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.
Results from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), American Express (NYSE:AXP), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) are also on the agenda for this week.
The first three major banks, JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), to report earnings Friday all beat expectations. But their stocks traded lower, as the strong results were already priced in.
5. U.S. Retail Sales, Fed Speakers In Focus
The Commerce Department will publish data on retail sales for March at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT).
The consensus forecast is that the report will show retail sales rose 0.4% last month, snapping back after a decline of 0.1% in February.
Core sales are forecast to inch up 0.2%, the same as its rise a month earlier.
Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey for April is due at the same time, while the NAHB homebuilders’ index for the same month is scheduled to come at 10AM ET (1400GMT). A reading on business inventories in February is expected at 10AM ET, too.
On the central bank front, market players will also pay close attention to comments from a trio of Fed speakers for insights into the outlook for monetary policy.
Dallas Fed head Robert Kaplan speaks in Florida at 12:00PM ET (1600GMT) at the International Economic Forum.
At the same time, Minneapolis Fed chief Neel Kashkari will be discussing the notion of “too big to fail” at an event by Howard University.
Finally, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will speak on the economy and rural market trends to the Shoals Chamber of Commerce in Alabama.
Of the three up on the podium today, only Bostic is a voter in the FOMC.
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was 0.3% lower at 89.23.
In the bond market, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield inched up to 2.856%.