Asia Markets

Asia markets jump despite US-Iran tensions; gold and oil prices fall back

Key Points
  • Asian markets jumped on Tuesday while oil and gold prices pared losses amid rising geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.
  • Gold prices on Tuesday retreated from its near seven-year high a day earlier.
  • Oil prices, which surged earlier this week on the back of those geopolitical risks, were down more than 1% by Tuesday afternoon.

Asian markets jumped on Tuesday while oil and gold prices pared losses amid rising geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.

Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.60% to close at 23,575.72 of Tuesday, after a decline of nearly 2% a day earlier. The Topix index rose 1.62%.

Most sectors gained, with tech stocks trading up. Nintendo pared some earlier gains to rise 0.47%, while Softbank was up 1.69%, and Sony surged 3.17%.

Auto stocks in Japan also strengthened, with major stocks up more than 1%. Mazda surged 2.30%, Honda jumped 2.73%, Toyota was up 1.98%, and Nissan rose 1.76%.

South Korea's Kospi was up 0.95% to close at 2,175.54, led by the tech and cosmetics sectors.

Chinese stocks were also in positive territory. The Shanghai composite rose 0.69% to 3,104.80, while the Shenzhen composite jumped 1.31% to 1,791.85. The Shenzhen component surged 1.22% to 10,829.04.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.34% in its final hour of trade.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.35% to close at 6,826.40. Oil stocks saw gains, with Santos up 2.33%, Woodside Petroleum rising 0.76% and Oil Search gaining 2.35%. The heavily weighted financials sector was up 1.48%.

Meanwhile, bushfires are set to affect the country's major dairy industry, with fire-affected regions accounting for around a third of Australia's output, according to a Reuters report. Australia is the world's seventh-largest dairy exporter.

Shares of Australia's largest processor Bega Cheese fell as much as 10% on Monday, but pared losses on Tuesday to rise 2.81% by the close. It said Monday that its production facilities have not suffered any impact from the fires, but a number of its suppliers were affected.

Overall, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.74%.

Gold slips; oil prices lose more than 1%

Gold prices on Tuesday retreated from its near seven-year high on Monday — as investors fled riskier assets amid U.S.-Iran tensions that shot up in the past week with the killing of Iran's top commander Qasem Soleimani. Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,562.81 per ounce.

Oil prices also retreated on Tuesday, losing more than 1% before paring losses in the afternoon. They were higher earlier this week on the back of those geopolitical risks.

In the afternoon during Asia hours, U.S. crude dropped 0.81% to $62.77 per barrel. Global benchmark Brent dropped back below $70, declining 0.90% to $68.29 per barrel.

"Geopolitical tensions remain centre stage with markets clearly in wait-and-see mode," Tapas Strickland, director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note on Tuesday.

"The potential for this to spiral into a cycle of retaliation remains and markets will likely remain cautious," Strickland said, referring to U.S.-Iran tensions.

U.S. markets rose on Monday, recovering from losses earlier on Friday, with gains led by big tech stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day up 68.50 points, or 0.2% at 28,703.38 after falling 216 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 closed 0.4% higher at 3,246.28 while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6% to 9,071.46.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.722, retreating from levels above 97.1 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.30 against the dollar, weakening again from levels around 107.8 last week as investors sought the safe-haven currency. The Australian dollar was last at around $0.6901, weakening from an earlier high of 0.6942.