Stock market today: Markets steady in Asia after Israel declares war following Hamas attack in Gaza


BANGKOK (AP) — Share prices were mixed on Monday after the Israeli government declared war following deadly attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

U.S. futures were lower and oil prices gained more than $3 a barrel.

Conflict in the Middle East often raises the specter of higher oil prices given the risk of disruptions to supplies.

“Disruptions or escalations in the region can have far-reaching implications for energy markets, global supply chains, and geopolitical dynamics,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

The fighting has not yet had any discernible impact on oil output, but geopolitical escalations in the Middle East typically lead to a “buy-first-ask-questions-later” response, he said.

Oil prices had eased back from highs of the mid $90 range last month in recent trading, falling sharply last week. Early Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was up $3.28 at $86.05 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 48 cents on Friday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, advanced $3.11 per barrel to $87.69 per barrel.

Tokyo and several other Asian markets were closed for holidays on Monday. Shanghai reopened after a weeklong holiday, falling about 0.7% to 3,088.94. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3% at 6,974.60. India’s Sensex slipped 0.4% to 65,744.95.

Bangkok’s SET was down 0.7%.

Hong Kong’s market was closed in the morning due to typhoon warnings but was due to reopen in the afternoon.

The two-day toll from the fighting in the Middle East surpassed 1,100 dead and thousands wounded on both sides. Palestinian militant groups claimed to be holding more than 130 captives from the Israeli side. Israel’s declaration of war raises the question if it would launch a ground assault into Gaza, which in past situations has resulted in heavy casualties.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel, in a move meant to help deter any regional expansion of the conflict.

On Friday, Wall Street rallied after investors studied the nuances of a surprisingly strong report on U.S. employment that initially caused stocks to tumble on fears that upward pressure on inflation will lead the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates high.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% to 4,308.50, the Dow jumped 0.9% to 33,407.58 and the Nasdaq composite flipped to a gain of 1.6%, closing at 13,431.34.

Treasury yields leaped following the release of the report, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury again soared to its highest level since 2007. It was at 4.80% early Monday, up from 4.72% late Thursday.

Wall Street hates high interest rates because they knock down prices for all kinds of investments. And even though the job market hasn’t faltered yet despite the Fed pulling its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001, high rates work to extinguish high inflation by slowing the entire economy. That raises the risk of a recession down the road.

Among the potentially encouraging signals for the Fed: Workers’ average wages rose at a slower rate in September than economists expected. While that’s discouraging for workers trying to keep up with inflation, it could remove some inclination by companies to keep raising prices for their products.

Reports this week on inflation at both the consumer and wholesale levels are the next big data points due before the Fed makes its next announcement on interest rates on Nov. 1.

A strong job market also carries some rewards for financial markets in the short term. It means the economy is still doing well despite high rates, which could support corporate profits.

General Motors rose 1.9% after the United Auto Workers union said it will not expand its strikes against Detroit’s three automakers. The union said GM made a breakthrough concession on unionizing electric vehicle battery plants.

This week will bring the unofficial start to earnings reporting season for the S&P 500, with Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase and UnitedHealth Group among the big companies scheduled on the calendar.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 149.16 Japanese yen from 149.11 yen late Friday. The euro was unchanged at $1.0553.

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