NEW YORK, NY – Shares advanced in Asia Tuesday following modest gains on Wall Street despite caution over rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
U.S. officials were bracing for Iran to respond to the killing by a U.S. drone of its most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani. Noting heightened levels of military readiness in the country, Washington was preparing for a possible “tit-for-tat” attack on an American military leader.
Still, most regional benchmarks rose, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index adding 1.4% to 23,516.87. Hong Kong's Hang Seng picked up 0.5% to 28,367.18, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.4% to 3,094.44. In South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.9% to 2,174.85. Australia's S&P ASX 200 climbed 1.2% to 6,813.60. Shares fell 0.8% in Taiwan but rose in Southeast Asia.
Overnight, gold touched its highest price since April 2013 as investors sought safety amid fears the antagonisms could lead to war. But it fell back Tuesday, losing $7.90 or 0.5% to $1,561.00 per ounce.
“The positive sentiment is likely to continue for the remainder of the day as the underlying drivers of the stock market rally, the search for yield and global economic recovery, reassert themselves," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary. “Only geopolitical headlines surprises from the Middle East are now likely to derail the rally."
Gold has climbed more than $40 since before Soleimani's killing. Historically, it has performed well in times of military conflict, such as the two Persian Gulf wars and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, even after taking into account interest rates and the dollar's movements, according to Goldman Sachs commodities analysts.
Oil prices also gave up some of their recent big gains on Tuesday, with benchmark U.S. crude dropping 75 cents to $62.52 per barrel. It gained 22 cents to $63.27 per barrel on Monday.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 85 cents, or 1.2%, to $68.06 per barrel. On Monday it added 31 cents to $68.91 per barrel.
In currency trading, the dollar rose to 108.50 Japanese yen from 108.33 yen on Monday. The euro was flat at $1.1194.
On Wall Street, after dropping 0.6% as soon as trading opened, the benchmark S&P 500 pushed steadily higher through the day, recovering half its sharp loss from Friday. It climbed 0.4% to 3,246.28, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 28,703.38. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6%, to 9,071.46.
Higher oil prices helped drive energy stocks in the S&P 500 to a 0.8% gain, the second-largest among the 11 sectors that make up the index. EOG Resources jumped 4.1%, Occidental Petroleum rose 3.3% and Halliburton gained 2.5%.
Healthy gains for Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google's parent company, Alphabet, also lifted the market.
Apart from waiting for next steps in the clash between the United States and Iran, several big economic reports are on the schedule this upcoming week that could move markets. The headliner is Friday's jobs report from the government.
Solid jobs growth has helped support the U.S. economy, even as trade wars hurt manufacturing around the world. Economists expect Friday's report to show that employers added 155,000 jobs last month. The healthy job market is one of the reasons the S&P 500 soared to its second-best showing in 22 years in 2019. Big moves by central banks around the world to shield the economy from the pain of trade wars also were big factors.
AP Business Writers Stan Choe and Damian J. Troise contributed.