European stocks rise as Trump evasive on Syria strike warning

World markets have jumped over fears of a possible strike against the Syrian regime

London (United Kingdom) (AFP) – European stock markets rebounded slightly Thursday after US President Donald Trump was evasive about when a possible Syria military strike might take place, dealers said.

“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” Trump tweeted.

Frankfurt, London and Paris equities all charged higher on relief over the news.

World stock markets had mostly retreated Wednesday after Trump vowed to strike Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Trump’s new tweet seemed to tone down Wednesday’s overtly bellicose warning, which saw him tell Syria and its ally Russia that a US strike following an alleged chemical weapons assault on civilians last weekend was all but imminent.

The US president had initially tweeted that “missiles will be coming”, defying Russian warnings against a military strike.

“A tweet-turnaround from Trump … was the main driver of growth, lifting the majority of the markets out of the red and into the green,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell on Thursday.

Nevertheless, markets remain anxious over the possibility of an uptick in violence in Syria involving the United States and Russia.

Investors are already nervous over a potential trade war brewing between the US and China.

“With a possible trade war and conflict with Russia over Syria on the horizon, it’s no wonder investors are not feeling particularly bullish right now,” added OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

“That said, I still believe the chances of either … actually materialising are relatively slim which may stop the sell-off in equities getting out of hand.”

– IAG mulls Norwegian takeover –

Away from geopolitical worries, there was eye-catching news in the aviation sector.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, is mulling a potential takeover of low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle after building up a minority holding, it said Thursday.

Norwegian’s shares jumped by nearly 20 percent on the Oslo stock exchange following the announcement.

Back in London, IAG stocks declined by about 0.8 percent.

In Asia, markets fell Thursday as fears about the standoff over Syria arrested a rally fuelled by Xi Jinping’s conciliatory trade message earlier in the week.

The latest Syria developments had also weighed heavily on Wall Street on Wednesday, while oil prices shot up on fears about supplies in the crude-rich region — hitting levels not seen since late 2014.

The oil market trod tentatively higher in Thursday deals as traders awaited more news.

“Oil prices seem happy to consolidate around recent highs, awaiting further developments in the Syria situation,” said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

 – Key figures around 1100 GMT – 

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,262.48 points 

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 12,344

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,291.30

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,423.07

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 21,660.28 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 30,831.28 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,180.16 (close)

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.9 percent at 24,189.45 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2342 from $1.2367 at 2100 GMT on Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.84 yen from 106.79

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4170 from $1.4177

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP four cents at $72.10 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP five cents at $66.87