In European Equity Markets shares inched up on Friday, reversing earlier weakness as oil stocks climbed after a U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria sent crude prices near to one-month highs. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended up 0.1 percent, also supported by precious metal miners which benefited from a rise in prices of gold, which is seen as a safe-haven asset. Shares in Randgold Resources rose 4.3 percent, the second biggest gainer on the STOXX after oil firm Tullow Oil , while silver and gold miner Fresnillo added 1.8 percent. Defence firm BAE Systems added 2.4 percent, in line with U.S. peers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the strike.
In Currency Markets South Africa’s rand slipped on Friday after a second ratings agency, Fitch, downgraded the country’s credit status to “junk” on economic uncertainty after last week’s sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The rand has fallen more than 11 percent since March 27, when President Jacob Zuma recalled Gordhan from an investor roadshow to Britain and the United States. Latin American currencies inched up on Friday after unfavorable weather weighed on U.S. jobs growth in March, which fell short of forecasts for a solid result. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 98,000 jobs, the fewest since last May, after exceeding 200,000 in the two previous months.
In Commodities Markets oil prices rose on Friday, trading near a one-month high after the United States fired missiles at a Syrian government air base, roiling global markets and raising concern that the conflict could spread in the oil-rich region. The toughest U.S. action yet in Syria’s six-year-old civil war has ramped up geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East. This supported oil futures, which were on track for a 3 percent weekly increase on signs of higher U.S. demand and lower product inventories. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 37 cents at $52.07 a barrel, having reached an intraday high of $52.94. Brent crude futures were up 28 cents at $55.17 a barrel after reaching an intraday peak of $56.08.
In US Equity Markets stocks were little changed in choppy trading on Friday after a U.S. missile strike on Syria sent investors scurrying to safe-havens, while weak jobs data weighed on financial stocks. U.S. employers added about 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest since last May and below economists’ expectation of 180,000, as bad weather hit hiring at construction sites. However, wage growth ticked up slightly and the unemployment rate fell. Bank stocks were hit the most. The S&P 500 financial index was down 0.56 percent, the biggest decliner among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were up between 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury debt prices turned lower on Friday, with yields hitting session highs, as traders perceived remarks by New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley on U.S. interest rate increases and balance sheet reduction as mildly hawkish. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was down 5/32 in price for a yield of 2.362 percent, up 2 basis points from late on Thursday, while the two-year note was 2/32 lower in price, yielding 1.282 percent, up over 3 basis points from Thursday.