Asian markets close lower, Europe slips on Middle East concerns: Global Markets Update
Moneylife Digital Team 02 March 2011

Market participants are concerned that the rise in crude prices will push up inflation leading to higher costs that would threaten profits of manufacturers

Markets in Asia settled lower on worries about the Libyan crisis spreading to Iran and Saudi Arabia. This apart, the spurt in prices of crude and precious metals also weighed down investor sentiment. Market participants are concerned that the rise in crude prices will push up inflation leading to higher costs, which would threaten profits of manufacturers.

Following the sell-off on Wall Street overnight and the drop across Asia today, stocks on European bourses also slipped across the board. Among the key European markets, UK's FTSE 100 was down 0.84%, Germany's DAX declined 0.91% and France's CAC 40 fell by 0.97% in early trade today. But US stock index futures indicated a flat opening for the markets on Wednesday.

Crude oil for April delivery traded over $100 a barrel today. Futures jumped 2.7% yesterday in New York to $99.63, the highest settlement price since September 2008 as Libyan rebels readied themselves for more clashes with forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Television reports said Iranian protesters clashed with security forces in Tehran. In Saudi Arabia activists used Facebook pages to call for protests on 11th and 20th March.

Meanwhile, spot silver hit a 31-year high, while gold traded less than half a per cent from a record high struck this week on Middle East tensions. Spot silver touched $34.74 an ounce in Asian trade, its highest since early 1980. US silver futures rose to $34.74, and retreated marginally to $34.59.

Spot gold hit an intra-day high of $1,434.45, just 20 cents below the record hit in the previous session. It has since eased to $1,429.39.

Among the stock markets, the Shanghai Composite shed 0.16%, the Hang Seng tanked 1.49%, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 2.43%, the Straits Times was down 1.31%, the Jakarta Composite declined 0.75%, the KLSE Composite fell by 0.20%, the Seoul Composite fell by 0.57% and the Taiwan Weighted ended 1.23% lower.

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