Asian stocks track Wall Street’s decline as Middle East tensions escalate

HONG KONG (AP) — Asia stocks pulled back on Monday as worries about potentially escalating tensions in the Middle East rattled financial markets, pushing investors to look for safer places for their money.

U.S. futures rose and oil prices fell despite tensions roiling the Middle East where an attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A barrel of benchmark U.S. oil declined 41 cents to $85.25 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 24 cents to $90.21. Slower demand from China, combined with forecasts that growth in supply is outpacing demand, has kept prices in check.

“While the drone attack has grabbed headlines, its immediate impact on global markets, particularly oil prices and inflation concerns, may be subdued,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said in a commentary. “The precision and limited lethal impact of Iran’s response suggest a strategic approach aimed at minimizing damage rather than escalating tensions.”

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1% in morning trading to 39,114.19.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 153.71 Japanese yen from 153.07 yen, hitting another 34-year high as investors shifted toward the traditional currency of refuge. The euro cost $1.0650, up from $1.0635.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.6% to 7,743.80. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.1% to 2,653.06.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.5% to 16,633.37, while the Shanghai Composite gained 1.4% to 3,062.73. Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan’s Taiex was 1% lower and the Sensex in India fell 1% as the country geared up for lengthy national election process.

The retreat Monday followed a decline Friday on Wall Street following a mixed start to the earnings reporting season.

The S&P 500 sank 1.5% on Friday to 5,123.41, closing out its worst week since October, when a huge rally on Wall Street began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.2% to 37,983.24, and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.6% from…

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