Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Markets rally on Bin Laden death

2 May 2011 Last updated at 07:33 GMT Man walks past Tokyo stock market board. Stock markets have been volatile in past weeks The US dollar has rebounded and stock markets gained in Asia and Europe after US President Barack Obama said Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

Oil prices slid more than 1%, while "safe havens" such as gold and silver also lost value.

Analysts said Bin Laden's death could reduce security risks and would help lift consumer sentiment in the US.

But they warned that it would do little to ease the longer-term risks hanging over the US and global economies.

"There is some feel-good value and the market will like that," said Chip Hanlon of Delta Global Advisors.

But he added: "It doesn't change much about the energy situation and doesn't change much about the ongoing battle with radical Islamists."

Stock index futures indicated that Wall Street's main S&P 500 index would rise by 0.7% when it opened later on Monday.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.6%, closing above the 10,000 level for the first time since mid-March, when the country was struck by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was closed for a public holiday, but other bourses, including those in France and Germany, opened higher.

Several stock markets in Asia, including in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, were also closed for a public holiday on Monday and will react to the news of Bin Laden's death on Tuesday.

Cheaper crude

Brent crude oil was trading $1.45 lower at $124.44, while US light shed $1.50 to $112.43.

Oil prices have been pushed to near record levels in recent weeks by the fighting in Libya, and political instability in the Middle East.

At the same time, producer countries such as Saudi Arabia have increased their output in an effort to ease fears of a supply squeeze.

Silver was the day's biggest declining commodity. At one point, it was trading some 13% lower.

Gold also dropped as investors bet that economic growth in the US was improving, albeit slowly, and that gains in the two metals were overdone.

Analysts said the rise in stocks markets reflected a willingness by investors to put money into riskier assets, in the belief that Bin Laden's death had removed some of the uncertainties hanging over world events.

"There is always a reaction in commodities to news of this nature," said David Lennox of Fat Prophets.

"The markets will always react quickly, and in this case it is someone who has been held out as the father of all terrorism.

But any easing we might see in oil or gold markets, in my view, will be short-lived. The longer-term impact will not be substantial."

Greater threat?

But some analysts said Bin Laden's death might actually incite more violence around the world.

"The immediate thing is how it will affect US assets: its embassies, personnel and physical installations," said Arjuna Mahendran, chief strategist at HSBC Private Bank.

"Does it raise the threat level? That's the key thing. I think it does."

The US State Department has cautioned its embassies and citizens against the possibility of reprisals from al-Qaeda, the organisation that Bin Laden started and led.

The department has also issued a worldwide travel alert warning of greater potential for anti-American violence.

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