Asia report: Markets mixed as reaction to Syria strikes remains muted

16 April 2018

(ShareCast News) - Markets in Asia finished mixed on Monday, as investors reacted to the launching of missile strikes on Syria by the US, the UK and France over the weekend.
In Japan, the <strong>Nikkei 225</strong> was ahead 0.26% at 21,835.53, as the yen strengthened 0.08% on the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.26.

The utilities and pharmaceuticals sectors led the risers in Tokyo, with banking and securities plays in the red, as the broader <strong>Topix</strong> index managed to finish up 0.4%.

On the mainland, the <strong>Shanghai Composite</strong> slid 1.53% to close at 3,110.75, and the smaller, technology-heavy <strong>Shenzhen Composite</strong> slipped 0.52% to 1,824.77.

South Korea's <strong>Kospi</strong> eked out gains of 0.1% to settle at 2,457.49, while the <strong>Hang Seng Index</strong> in Hong Kong dropped 1.6% to 30,315.59.

Manufacturers were in the red in Seoul, as blue-chip technology stocks provided a mixed bag, with <strong>Samsung Electronics</strong> managing a 1.08% rise by end-of-play.

Markets were relatively calm, even after the US led the missile strikes in Syria, carried out overnight after markets closed in Europe on Friday.

The strikes, which were carried out by Washington with cooperation from London and Paris, were reportedly designed to be a deterrent to the Assad regime against the use of chemical weapons.

Condemnation from Russia only came in the verbal variety by Monday, with Moscow's previous promises of physical retaliation failing to even spook investors, according to some analysts.

"Russia's prediction of 'global chaos' if the West hits Syria [are] not filling markets with fresh dread, at least judging from the limited foreign exchange market movements evident in the first two hours of the new trading week," noted National Australia Bank head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill earlier in the Asian session.

The action against Syria saw the ongoing trade tension between the US and China move to the backburner, at least for now, with the issue far from headlines on Monday.

Oil prices were lower as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last down 1.06% at $71.82 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 1.03% at $66.70.

In Australia, the <strong>S&amp;P/ASX 200</strong> was 0.21% higher at 5,841.30, led higher by the energy and utilities subindices.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's <strong>S&amp;P/NZX 50</strong> slipped 0.1% to 8,406.35, with flag carrier <strong>Air New Zealand</strong> falling 2.2% after it confirmed engine maintenance checks would result in adjustments to its international flight schedule.

The airline has been affected by ongoing issues with <strong>Rolls-Royce</strong> engines fitted to the <strong>Boeing</strong> 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, of which it was the launch customer several years ago.

It was a mixed picture for the down under dollars, with the Aussie last 0.08% stronger against the greenback at AUD 1.2871, while the Kiwi weakened 0.19% to NZD 1.3624.