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A US missile strike on a Syrian air base ordered by Donald Trump threw Asian markets into disarray on Friday as investors, already unnerved over the outlook for a two-day summit with China’s president, scrambled to deal with the ramifications of the Trump administration’s first major military action.
Speaking at Mar-a-Lago, his West Palm Beach resort where he was hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr Trump said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had launched a “horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians” with a deadly nerve agent.
“I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Mr Trump said. “It is in the vital national security interest of the US to prevent and deter the spread or use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The Pentagon has said it warned Russia in advance of the strike. Read a transcript of the president’s public statement following the attack here. Read more on US politicians’ reactions to the missile strike here.
In the Asia trading day haven assets surged on news of the attack, with gold rising to a five-month high as oil prices climbed to a four-week high. Stocks sold off immediately following the strike as investors flocked to the yen, but shares in Japan have since bounced back led by gains in the energy sector.
In equities, Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index is off 0.2 per cent, while the Topix index is up 0.9 per cent in Tokyo and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is down 0.6 per cent.
Futures tip the FTSE 100 to dip 0.2 per cent at the open in London, while the S&P 500 is expected to drop 0.3 per cent when trading starts in New York.
The economic calendar for Friday is evenly distributed, if somewhat lacking in weighty releases (all times London):
- 07.00: Germany industrial production, trade and current account data
- 07.45: France industrial production
- 08.00: Spain industrial production
- 08.00: Switzerland foreign exchange reserves
- 09.30: UK industrial and manufacturing production
- 10.00: BoE governor Mark Carney speaks in London
- 13.30: UK Niesr GDP estimate (three months ended March)