Asian stocks floundered on Wednesday as investors get jittery about terrorist threats in Europe and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East; after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane yesterday, risking escalation between the former cold war foes. Japan's Nikkei lost 0.32%, while Australia's S&P\ASX 200 index shed 0.63%. Korea's KOSPI gave up 0.29%, while India's Nifty slid 0.22%. China's CSI300 index for the biggest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen shrugged the tensions however, gaining 0.40%.
Wall Street ended Tuesday slightly up, with Dow Jones rising 20 points, or 0.11% to 17,812. NASDAQ was flat at 5,102, while S&P 500 advanced 2.5 points, or 0.12% to 2,089.
Oil prices jumped about 3.0% yesterday as tensions in the Middle East raised questions about supply stability. U.S. crude futures are up 35 cents today, or 0.87% to $43.02 a barrel, near a two-week high touched overnight. Brent futures for January gained 25 cents, or 0.53% to $46.34 a barrel.
Dollar eased back as investors flock to safe haven currencies like the yen and Swiss franc, with its index down 0.13% to 99.56. Dollar fell for the second session against Euro to 1.0657 with a 0.13% loss. It skidded 0.12% against sterling to 1.5100 with a similar 0.12% loss.
Yen kept on its winning streak against the dollar, rising 0.10% to 122.40. Yen touched its highest against Euro since April yesterday at 130.19, before steadying today to 130.41. It jumped to a three-week high against sterling yesterday before steadying to 184.82.
Gold futures advanced on the back of the flickering dollar, gaining 4 dollars, or 0.37% to $1,078 an ounce. Silver futures rose 5 cents, or 0.39% to $14.20 an ounce.
A basket of data is awaited from the U.S. today, most notably, unemployment claims for last week, expected at 273K, a touch higher than the previous week's 271K. The lower the claims are the more indicative it is of less jobs layoffs, which heaps upward pressure on the dollar.
Also from the U.S., crude oil inventories for last week are expected to rise 1.2M, higher than the previous week's 0.3M addition. The more inventories there are, the more downward pressure is put on oil prices.