US stocks rise as Syria fears ease; yield curve flattens

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang shakes hands with Japan's Foreign Minister Kono at their meeting in Tokyo

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang shakes hands with Japan's Foreign Minister Kono at their meeting in Tokyo

Asian markets fell on Monday after a US-led strike on Syrian targets fuelled fresh geopolitical concerns over the Middle East.

Spreadbetters expected European stocks to open higher following overnight Wall Street gains, with Britain's FTSE rising 0.15 percent, Germany's DAX gaining 0.3 percent and France's CAC climbing 0.3 percent. South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1 percent higher to 2,457.49 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.2 percent to 5,841.30.

Zhao Sile (趙思樂), a Chinese journalist and author who writes about civil society in China, said Chinese activists have told her that it has become more hard in the past two years to obtain visas from Taiwan, according to the article.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 212.9 points, or 0.87 percent, to 24,573.04, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 21.54 points, or 0.81 percent, to 2,677.84 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 49.64 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,156.29.

Hong Kong fell 1.6 percent, while Shanghai had slipped 1.5 percent at the close, with traders there awaiting the release Tuesday of first-quarter Chinese growth data.

"The markets had been bracing for a possible escalation in Syria following President Trump's earlier warnings".

While Saturday's missile strikes were the biggest intervention by Western countries against Syria, investor risk appetite in the broader markets improved on speculation that the attacks would not lead to prolonged conflict. "Military action, however, has been limited, bringing relief", said Kota Hirayama, senior emerging markets economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

"Real wages are still on the rise and this will boost consumer spending and economic growth over the medium term", said analyst Miles Eakers at foreign exchange trading firm Centtrip.

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Yield on both German and USA 10-year government bonds, seen as among the most liquid and safe assets in the world, were both at their highest level in three weeks.

That market is now focused on USA first quarter earnings, especially after February's sell-off and tech sector woes took valuations down to more reasonable levels, said Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 0.9 percent to 1,563.03. The euro strengthened to $1.2388 from $1.2380.

Looking ahead, the USA earnings season kicks into high gear this week with Thomson Reuters data predicting profits at S&P 500 companies increased by 18.6 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, their biggest rise in seven years.

The pound rose to $1.4355, its highest since June 2016, with focus on data that could cement expectations of a May interest rate increase from the Bank of England. USA crude CLcv1 fell 1.62 percent to $66.30 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $71.49, down 1.5 percent on the day.

Brent crude climbed 0.3 percent to $71.66 a barrel.

Buoyed by growing expectations over tighter supply in the aftermath of sanctions on major Russian producer Rusal, aluminum prices jumped more than 1 percent to nearly $2,500 a tonne to hit their highest since mid 2011.

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