Stocks were mixed Tuesday and the price of gold rose as investors monitored geopolitical risks — from North Korea’s rumblings over the U.S. to major powers’ plan to put pressure on Russia over the Syrian war.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX edged 0.1 percent lower to 12,194 and the CAC 40 of France was 0.2 percent higher at 5,116. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent to 7,383. Wall Street looked set for a slow start, with S&P 500 and Dow futures flat.
KOREAS, RUSSIA: North Korea said there could be “catastrophic consequences” after the U.S. ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula. Nerves were already on edge with U.S.-South Korea war games underway, following recent ballistic missile launches by the North that have rattled neighboring countries. The G-7 powers, meanwhile, want to put more pressure on Russia to stop backing the Syrian government, which they blame for a deadly chemical attack last week. Britain is open to more sanctions but some others from the group, which also includes the U.S., Japan and major European economies, want a softer approach.
GOLD: The precious metal, which is often sought out by investors as a safe haven in times of global uncertainty, was up 0.4 percent at $1,259 an ounce. That pushed up shares in major mining companies: Fresnillo was up 2.4 percent and Randgold Resources 2.3 percent higher in London.
TOSHIBA: Shares in Toshiba Corp. closed 2.7 percent lower before the company released unaudited results for April-December following two delays. The company, whose U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection, reported unaudited earnings Tuesday, projecting a loss of 1.01 trillion yen ($9.2 billion) for the fiscal year that ended in March. It said it racked up a 532.5 billion yen ($4.8 billion) loss for the April-December 2016 period.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index slipped 0.3 percent to 18,747.87 as Toshiba and other big export manufacturers lost ground. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sank 0.7 percent to 24,088.46, while the Shanghai Composite index rebounded to close 0.6 percent higher at 3,288.97. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 2,123.85 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 5,929.30. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 1 cent to $53.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed higher Monday for the fifth day in a row, adding 84 cents. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, was up 5 cents at $56.03 a barrel. It jumped 74 cents the day before.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.62 yen from 111.15 yen late Friday as investors shifted into the traditionally “safe haven” currency. The euro rose to $1.0613 from $1.0588.