World stocks were mixed on Tuesday ahead of the release of U.S. housing data and more earnings reports. Oil prices soared to their highest level since October on supply fears, after the Trump administration said it would soon impose sanctions on all buyers of Iranian oil.
Markets across Europe reopened after the Easter holiday. France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.2% to 5,570.15 while Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 7,488.75 in early trading. The DAX in Germany was 0.1% lower at 12,212.35.
Wall Street was set for a flat open. Futures for the broad S&P 500 index fell less than 0.1% to 2,911.70, while Dow futures were almost unchanged at 26,515.00.
Traders are waiting for a slew of U.S. earnings reports from big companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft starting Tuesday.
“Market players seem to be adopting a cautious approach ahead of the next wave of corporate earnings and this continues to be reflected across global stocks,” Lukman Otunuga of FXTM said in a market commentary.
“With earnings season kicking into higher gear, this will certainly be another busy week for financial markets as investors try to access the health of the global economy,” he added.
There was no strong impetus for buying in Asia. Reports from a recent high-level meeting in China, which was chaired by President Xi Jinping, showed willingness to fine-tune monetary policy but raised questions about future government stimulus.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was 0.2% higher at 22,259.74 and the Kospi in South Korea added 0.2% to 2,220.51. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat at 29,963.24. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 1% to 6,319.40 while the Shanghai Composite gave up 0.5% to 3,198.59.
On Monday, the Trump administration said it would no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil. The administration had granted eight waivers when it reimposed sanctions on Iran in November. These expire May 2.
The move will choke off more than $50 billion of annual Iranian income, which the U.S. says funds destabilizing activity in the Middle East and beyond. China, India, Japan and South Korea and Turkey are major importers of Iranian oil.
“The prompt contracts quickly repriced higher on panic fears that markets could face an immediate supply crunch, adding more pressure to the already tenuous global supply squeeze,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.
Industry experts said the sanctions could potentially remove up to 1.2 million barrels of oil per day from international markets. But that number will likely be lower, depending on how countries respond and just how much oil Iran continues to export.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has rejected the U.S. move, saying it “will not serve regional peace and stability.”
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 52 cents to $66.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $1.48 to $65.55 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 44 cents to $74.48 per barrel in London. It jumped $2.07 to $74.04 per barrel in the previous session.
CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 111.86 yen from 111.93 late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1255 from $1.1257.