Hong Kong: Asian energy shares rallied with oil prices Friday after the US launched missile strikes on Syria, fanning geopolitical concerns in the crude-rich Middle East and raising the prospect of friction with Russia.
Eyes are also on Florida as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump move into day two of a relationship-building summit, which comes after months of accusations by the US tycoon that Beijing was killing US jobs and manipulating its currency.
Trump ordered a huge assault on a airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack in Syria that Washington blamed on President Bashar al-Assad.
The attack came just hours after Russia warned that there could be “negative consequences” if the US took military action against Syria, which it is backing in a civil war.
The news sent stocks, which had been mostly in the black, into reverse and safe-haven assets such as the yen and gold soaring. Oil prices initially surged two percent.
“The untimely news of the US missile strike, coupled with tonight’s impending US non-farm payrolls, have created increased anxiety among investors,” Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities, said in a note. The US is due to release closely watched jobs data later in the day.
Energy firms were the big gainers, with Hong Kong-listed PetroChina jumping more than two percent and CNOOC up 1.5 percent, while Australia’s Woodside Petroleum was 1.3 percent higher and Inpex in Tokyo surged four percent.
The news dragged on the majority of Asia’s stock markets but the early plunges were either pared or reversed by the end of the day. Seoul closed down 0.1 percent and Singapore was off 0.5 percent, while Wellington, Taipei, Jakarta and Bangkok were also in the red.
However, Tokyo ended 0.4 percent up despite a soaring yen, which was sitting at lows not seen since November.
Shanghai added 0.2 percent and Sydney ended up 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong was flat, having wiped out an initial fall of more than one percent.