Asian stocks slid Friday, erasing early gains, while gold shone and oil prices skyrocketed after U.S. airstrikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian commander, intensifying geopolitical strains.
Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, chief of the elite Quds Force and top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis have been killed early on Friday in a U.S. airstrike on their convoy at Baghdad airport.
MSCI’s widest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had reached its highest point since June 15, 2018, in early trade; however, it dropped after stories of the airstrike emerged.
European shares had been set to follow their Asian equivalents lower. Pan-area Euro Stoxx 50 futures decreased 0.66% to 3,757, German DAX futures had been down 0.6% to 13,303.5 and FTSE futures gave up 0.42% to 7,514.
China’s CSI300 index, one of the world’s greatest-performing indexes in 2019, struggled to stay in positive territory; however, was last down about 0.2%. Australian shares finished up 0.64%, but off earlier highs.
Middle Eastern strains upset a rally for the index, which ended at its highest close in over18 months Thursday.
It had been boosted by a New Year’s Day declaration from China’s central bank that it would cut the amount of money that banks should hold as reserves, releasing around 800 billion yuan ($114.87 billion).
Against the backdrop of a split in trade tensions between the U.S. and China, global markets had seen the renewed appetite for risk assets.