World equities shiver after Bhutto killing

LONDON - Global stock markets fell Friday as the murder of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto reverberated around the world, while investors took profits before the year-end, dealers said.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 28 Dec 2007, 8:03 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:44 PM

European equities sank, mirroring losses earlier in Asia and overnight on Wall Street, as Bhutto’s assassination, together with weak US economic data, sent nervous investors fleeing to safe haven investments, they added.

Bhutto’s death on Thursday in Pakistan has raised geopolitical concerns about stability in the nuclear-armed country.

Investor sentiment was subdued in Frankfurt on Friday, which was the final trading day of 2007. However, London and Paris re-open next Monday for a shortened session before a public holiday on Tuesday, January 1, 2008.

Later Friday, Wall Street re-opens at 1430 GMT.

Gold and oil prices are trading near one-month highs, with New York crude at 97 dollars per barrel -- very close to the symbolic 100-dollar mark. Both commodities are regarded as wise investments in times of global uncertainty.

“Bhutto’s death could raise the geopolitical tension which would sustain the rise in oil prices,” said Prayoga Triyono, a fund manager at Henan Putirai Asset Management in Jakarta.

High oil prices -- which hit a record 99.29 dollars last month -- dampen global share prices because they crimp company earnings and pose a substantial threat to world economic growth, analysts said.

In Europe on Friday, London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares slid 0.41 percent to 6,471.10 points, the Paris CAC 40 shed 0.42 percent to 5,603.87 and Frankfurt’s Dax slipped 0.36 percent to 8,009.41 points.

Tokyo closed down 1.65 percent Friday on the final session of 2007, capping a tough year that saw the benchmark Nikkei-225 index slump 11.1 percent as fears over a US housing slump and related credit crunch battered markets.

Following Bhutto’s assassination, “the risk is that geopolitical uncertainty could push oil prices above 100 dollars per barrel,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Management.

Investors are worried that building inflationary pressures could limit the scope for further US interest rate cuts even as economic growth slows.

“The market ended this year on a pessimistic mood. The new year may start with increased downside risk as investors monitor the release of US economic data,” added Akino.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong market dropped 1.70 percent and Shanghai dipped 0.89 percent. Seoul ended 0.6 percent lower, Singapore shed 0.90 percent and Sydney slid 0.2 percent. Manila lost 1.3 percent and Wellington gave up 0.81 percent

“We took our lead from Wall Street but any news at the moment, negative or positive, really sways investors,” said Juliette Saly, an equities analyst at CommSec in Sydney.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 192 points, or 1.4 percent, at 13,359.61 on Thursday as investors reacted nervously to Bhutto’s assassination.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its “war on terror” and has received billions of dollars in aid.

Bhutto, the first woman to lead a Muslim nation, was campaigning to return to power in next month’s elections when she was shot by an assassin who then blew himself up.

The Karachi Stock Exchange is closed for three days as the nation observes a period of mourning for the slain politician.

Adding to the gloom, the US government said orders for durable goods rose by just 0.1 percent in November, far short of expectations.

“The recent economic data in the US showed that there are still no signs of a recovery,” said Alex Tam, research analyst at CSC Securities in Hong Kong. “That’s keeping the bulls out of the market.”

On the foreign exchange market, the European single currency climbed close to 1.47 dollars on persistent speculation that poor American economic data could force the US Federal Reserve to cut rates in 2008, analysts said.

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