World markets are mostly lower after Israel strikes back at Hamas attack

BANGKOK (AP) — Crude oil prices surged and world share prices were mostly lower on Monday after the Israeli government declared war following deadly attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

U.S. futures declined. The bond market in the U.S. will be closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday, but the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be open.

Oil prices fell back slightly after gaining more than $3 a barrel. Conflict in the Middle East often pushes oil prices higher given the risk of disruptions to supplies.

“Disruptions or escalations in the region can have far-reaching implications for energy markets, global supply chains, and geopolitical dynamics,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

The fighting has not yet had any discernible impact on oil output, but geopolitical escalations in the Middle East typically lead to a “buy-first-ask-questions-later” response, he said.

Oil prices had eased back from highs of the mid $90 range last month in recent days, falling sharply last week. Early Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was up $2.70 at $85.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 48 cents on Friday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, advanced $2.42 per barrel to $87.00 per barrel.

On Sunday, Tel Aviv’s main stock benchmark closed 6.5% lower after the attacks. Early Monday, Israel’s Central Bank said it will sell up to $30 billion in foreign exchange to prop up the shekel, which fell near an 8-year low early Monday. It also said it will provide up to $15 billion to support market liquidity.

The shekel fell to a near eight-year low against the U.S. dollar. It was trading Monday at 3.9157 shekels per dollar.

In times of war, the U.S. dollar is often sought as a safe haven, as is gold. The price of gold was up 1% early Monday at $1,863.50 per ounce.

Shares were lower, meanwhile, in most major markets.

Germany’s DAX lost 0.8% to 15,106.85 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 1% to 6,990.56. In London, the FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower, to 7,490.26.

The future for the S&P 500 was down 0.9% while that for the Dow lost 0.8%.

In Asian trading, Shanghai reopened after a weeklong holiday, falling 0.4% to 3,096.92.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was unchanged at 17,486.48. Its market reopened for afternoon trading after staying closed in the morning due to typhoon warnings.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2% at 6,970.20. India’s Sensex slipped 0.7% to 65,519.52. In Bangkok, the SET was down 0.7%.

Tokyo and several other Asian markets were closed for holidays on Monday.

The two-day toll from the fighting in the Middle East surpassed 1,100 dead and thousands wounded on both sides. Palestinian militant groups claimed to be holding more than 130 captives from the Israeli side. Israel’s declaration of war raises the question if it would launch a ground assault into Gaza, which in past situations has resulted in heavy casualties.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the Ford carrier strike group to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean to be ready to assist Israel, in a move meant to help deter any regional expansion of the conflict.

On Friday, Wall Street rallied after investors studied the nuances of a surprisingly strong report on U.S. employment that initially caused stocks to tumble on fears that upward pressure on inflation will lead the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates high.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% to 4,308.50, the Dow jumped 0.9% to 33,407.58 and the Nasdaq composite flipped to a gain of 1.6%, closing at 13,431.34.

Wall Street hates high interest rates because they hurt prices for all kinds of investments. And even though the job market hasn’t faltered yet despite the Fed pulling its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001, high rates work to extinguish high inflation by slowing the entire economy. That raises the risk of a recession down the road.

Reports this week on inflation at both the consumer and wholesale levels are the next big data points due before the Fed makes its next announcement on interest rates on Nov. 1.

A strong job market also carries some rewards for financial markets in the short term. It means the economy is still doing well despite high rates, which could support corporate profits.

General Motors rose 1.9% after the United Auto Workers union said it will not expand its strikes against Detroit’s three automakers. The union said GM made a breakthrough concession on unionizing electric vehicle battery plants.

This week will bring the unofficial start to earnings reporting season for the S&P 500, with Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase and UnitedHealth Group among the big companies scheduled on the calendar.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 149.15 Japanese yen from 149.11 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.0534 from $1.0553.


AP Writer Jon Gambrell in Jerusalem contributed.

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