A currency trader stands near screens showing the foreign exchange rates, left, at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Stocks got a downbeat start to the week as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on signals from China and the U.S. on prospects for a resolution of their tariffs war. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Global shares slip as Iran tensions loom

September 23, 2019 - 3:07 am

BANGKOK (AP) — World shares were mostly lower Monday as investors kept a wary eye on tensions with Iran and on prospects for a resolution of the tariffs war between China and the U.S.

Germany's DAX dropped 0.7% to 12,376.50 while the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.5% to 5,662.00. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.3% to 7,323.15. Wall Street looked ready for a steady start, with the future contracts for both the Dow Jones Industrial average and the S&P 500 up 0.1%.

China's Fosun Tourism Group, owner of Club Med and the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, fell 4.2% in Hong Kong after the 178-year-old British tour company filed for bankruptcy. Bookings for more than 600,000 global vacationers were canceled Monday as a result. Shanghai-based Fosun International dropped 1.5%.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said Thomas Cook's four airlines would be grounded and its 21,000 employees in 16 countries, including 9,000 in the UK, will lose their jobs.

Oil prices rose after President Donald Trump, arriving in New York for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, said he intended to seek support for a coalition to confront Iran after the U.S. blamed it for last week's strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility.

Iran's president on Sunday urged Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran. Hassan Rouhani promised to propose a regional peace plan at this week's UN meetings.

The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Aramco's largest oil processor, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War. Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have claimed the assault, which Saudi Arabia says was "unquestionably sponsored by Iran."

Iran denies being responsible and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an "all-out war."

With all that percolating, U.S. crude oil added 38 cents to $58.47 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, it lost 10 cents to $58.09 a barrel.

Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 31 cents to $63.51 per barrel.

"Saudi Arabia is struggling to revive its oil production back to its previous level. Aramco's executives are determined to do whatever it takes and this includes paying premium rates to workers and for the equipment for the repair work. The strength in the oil price is primarily due to the pessimism around Saudi oil production," Naeem Aslam of ThinkMarkets said in a commentary.

In Asian trading, the Shanghai Composite index skidded 1.0% to 2,977.08, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8% to 26,223.83 after yet another weekend of violent protests.

In South Korea, the Kospi was flat at 2,091.70, while the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney advanced 0.3% to 6,749.70. Shares fell in Taiwan and in Southeast Asia.

India's Sensex continued a rally that began Friday with an announcement of fresh tax incentives for businesses. It climbed 3.0% to 39,164.77 on Monday.

Tokyo's markets were closed for a holiday.

Wall Street ended last week with losses, snapping a 3-week winning streak for the S&P 500 following reports that Chinese officials canceled a planned trip to farms in Montana and Nebraska.

That sparked concern that trade talks due to resume next month might be in trouble after U.S. and Chinese envoys met last week for preliminary discussions to lay the groundwork for later, more formal negotiations.

However, the two sides described the talks in Washington as "productive" and "constructive," indicating further negotiations will go ahead in coming weeks.

In currency trading, the dollar weakened to 107.52 Japanese yen from 107.55 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.0969 from $1.1020.

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