Markets

European stocks close lower after US airstrike kills Iranian commander, spiking tensions

Key Points
  • Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of Tehran's elite Quds Force, was killed early on Friday by a U.S. airstrike on his convoy at Baghdad airport.
  • In Europe, travel and autos stocks led the losses while oil and gas shares rose over 1% on the back of renewed unrest in the Middle East.

European stocks closed lower on Friday as geopolitical tensions spiked after U.S. airstrikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian military commander.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally down 0.4%. Travel and autos stocks led the losses while oil and gas shares rose over 1% on the back of renewed unrest in the Middle East.

Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of Tehran's elite Quds Force, was killed early on Friday by a U.S. airstrike on his convoy at Baghdad airport.

Iran's Foreign Minister has tweeted that the U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its "rogue adventurism," while Fars News Agency reported a spokesman as saying that Iran's top security body will meet to discuss Tehran's response.

Oil prices spiked following the attack, with Brent Crude and WTI both up more than 2% Friday.

Equities stateside also sank on the back of geopolitical worries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined over 200 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes were both down about 0.6%.

Stocks on the move

Shares of Swedish Match rose over 3% to lead the Stoxx 600 in afternoon trade as tobacco stocks were boosted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) final vapor guidance.

Airlines Lufthansa and Air France KLM slid around 7% and 8% respectively as airlines broadly declined on the back of the sharp rise in oil prices.