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World Stocks Signal Recovery After Bhutto Death

Geopolitical concerns rattled stock investors Thursday, and left various commodity prices at elevated levels Friday following the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Benazir Bhutto
Lefteris Pitarakis
Benazir Bhutto

Asian markets continued the negative sentiment through to a second session, while the major European indexes started to recover by mid-session Friday and U.S. stock index futures found some positive momentum.

The flight to quality kept gold prices high, and oil prices remained firmly above $96 a barrel on concerns about security in South Asia and the Middle East.

The Pakistan stock market will remain closed for the next three days as the nation observes a period of mourning following the assassination, media reports said.

Shares ended down 1.7% in Tokyo, and Hong Kong's Hang-Seng index tumbled the same amount. In Europe, the major indexes were mixed, but off earlier lows. The U.S. market fell sharply in the previous session.

Gold prices rose again, while oil prices rose slightly.

"As tragic as the news is, the actual impact in terms of broader regional markets is really limited," Stephen Davies, head of Javelin Wealth Management, told "Worldwide Exchange."

But the market has been "struggling with higher levels of economic risk for the last six to nine months and this highlights that with economic risk you have political risk," Davies said.

"There is a certain amount of political risk that needs to be factored into the system right now," Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital said on "Worldwide Exchange."

Bhutto's Body Arrives in Sindh

Bhutto's body arrived in her family village for burial on Friday, hours after her assassination plunged nuclear-armed Pakistan into one of the worst crises in its 60-year history.

Her killing on Thursday after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi triggered a wave of violence, especially in her native Sindh province, and stoked fears that a Jan. 8 election meant to return Pakistan to civilian rule could be put off.

But the country's caretaker prime minister told reporters elections "stand as they were announced" later Friday.

Emerging-Market Sentiment?

Analysts say the world of high finance and international money will barely hiccup at the assassination of Pakistan's moderate opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Fund managers say the killing is unlikely to derail fund flows into neighboring India and other emerging markets in Asia.

They also say that while financial markets in Pakistan itself may take some heat for awhile, the overall effect on real economic growth should be negligible.

Financial prognosticators say Pakistan's economy is expected to grow by 5.5 percent next year.

Pakistan's stock market, up about 47 percent this year, will be shut for three days in a bid to limit fallout from Bhutto's murder.

Stock markets across much of Asia sank today, but only partly on anxiety about Pakistan.

-- Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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