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International markets roundup

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks have closed lower as possible US military action against Syria stoked investor concerns about geopolitical risk to the American economy and minutes from the most recent US Federal Reserve policy meeting sparked worries about a more hawkish view on interest-rate increases.

The decline followed two days of gains, driven by easing concerns about trade tensions between the United States and China.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria, declaring missiles "will be coming."

The rising tensions sent oil prices surging, boosting energy stocks one per cent. But the risk-off sentiment weighed on Treasury yields, pushing financial stocks down 1.3 per cent.

"There's general nervousness about what might happen with any strikes and the potential escalation of tensions with Russia," said Anwiti Bahuguna, senior portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments in Boston.

The major Wall Street indexes edged even lower after minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee showed concern among a few of its members that rising inflation might require a faster pace of interest rate hikes than anticipated.

Members of the Federal Reserve voted unanimously to raise borrowing costs by a quarter percentage point and expressed confidence that the economy would strengthen and inflation would rise in coming months.

"The minutes were modestly negative," said John Carey, portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management in Boston. "People had been speculating that due to all the turbulence in the market because of geopolitical uncertainties that the Fed might consider pausing or slowing down the interest rate increases."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 218.55 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 24,189.45, the S&P 500 lost 14.68 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 2,642.19 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 25.27 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 7,069.03.

LONDON: Renewed caution among investors dented Britain's top share index on Wednesday as Western forces discussed possible military action against Syria, although strong results from Tesco pushed its shares higher.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.13 per cent, though it remained near the six-week high it reached on Tuesday after several days of gains.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.60 per cent, Germany's DAX lost 0.8 per cent and the CAC 40 in France was down 0.6 per cent

The escalation of tensions over a suspected chemical attack in Syria weighed on travel stocks after air traffic control agency Eurocontrol warned airlines to exercise caution in the eastern Mediterranean due to possible air strikes into Syria in the next 72 hours.

Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair declined 1.8 and three per cent, while cruise operator Carnival dropped 2.1 per cent and Intercontinental Hotel fell 1.6 per cent.

TOKYO: Asian stocks rose modestly on Wednesday but pared early gains as caution again crept into markets over strained U.S-China trade ties and escalating tensions in Syria.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump both struck conciliatory tones on Tuesday, which analysts hoped could open the door for negotiations to avert a trade war. But one report said early talks have already broken down.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.04 per cent higher, while Japan's Nikkei lost 0.49 per cent.

Shanghai shares fared better after China's central bank set out the clearest timetable yet for opening financial services to foreign investors.

WELLINGTON: On Wednesday, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.19 per cent, to 8,453.72.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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