Most Asian markets fell on Monday after a US-led strike on Syrian targets fuelled fresh concerns over the tinderbox Middle East, though analysts said investors were hopeful the crisis would not escalate.
The US, Britain and France carried out attacks at the weekend on alleged chemical weapons facilities, in response to what they say was a toxic gas attack by the Russia-backed Assad regime a week before.
While there was broad support for the mission, Moscow condemned it as illegal and warned it would provoke “chaos” in international relations.
The Syria crisis, which has seen the West’s relationship with Russia grow increasingly frosty, has encompassed other regional players including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and led to talk of a military standoff. It also comes against the backdrop of a trade dispute between the United States and China. Many fear this could hammer the global economy if the two sides push through threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods.
Most markets were down on Monday but the losses were limited. Hong Kong fell 1.7 percent in the afternoon, while Shanghai had slipped 1.5 percent at the close, with traders there awaiting the release Tuesday of first-quarter Chinese growth data. Property firms in Hong Kong took a hit on fears of an end to the era of low interest rates as the city’s de facto central bank is forced to support the local dollar, which is at the lowest end of its band with the greenback.—AFP