Global shares were wavering Monday after attacks by suicide bombers on churches in Egypt added to uncertainties in the Middle East. News that China’s top anti-corruption body is investigating the insurance regulator pulled shares lower in Shanghai.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 lost 0.5 percent in early trading to 5,108.27, while Germany’s DAX inched down 0.1 percent to 12,211.15. Britain’s FTSE 100 was little changed but up slightly at 7,350.98. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.1 percent at 20,619. S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent to 2,355.10.
GEOPOLITICS: President Donald Trump’s meetings Friday-Saturday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping seemed to have little major impact on world markets. But U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian air base last week were followed by bombings at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt that killed 44 people. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. missile strikes carry a message for any nation operating outside of international norms. Worries have been growing about North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear weapons program, and over the weekend the Pentagon said a Navy carrier strike group was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean to provide more of a physical presence in the region.
THE QUOTE: “Volatility was substantially higher last week, and safe-haven asset prices soared as geopolitical tensions and financial uncertainties rose. Therefore, a ‘risk-off’ sentiment will probably continue to overshadow stock markets in the near term,” Margaret Yang of CMC Markets said in a commentary.
CHINA CORRUPTION PROBE: The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission was suspected of unspecified “severe discipline violations,” an official term for corruption. The industry has been hit by complaints that insurers are making dangerously risky investments in stocks and real estate.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent to finish at 18,797.88, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 5,912.90. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.9 percent to 2,133.32. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was steady at 24,262.18, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 percent to 3,269.39. Shares rose in Taiwan and were mixed in Southeast Asia.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 33 cents to $52.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 54 cents to $52.24 a barrel late Friday in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 42 cents to $55.66 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.36 yen from 110.55 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.0582 from $1.0649.