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Major equity markets up, oil dips after surge on Israel-Hamas conflict

Traders remained on edge as Israel carried out retaliatory attacks in Gaza. (AFP)
  • Europe's main stock markets jumped more than 1.5 percent approaching the half-way stage, and after a largely upbeat session in Asia and overnight on Wall Street
  • Oil prices dropped, having soared Monday after Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel, stoking fear of spreading unrest in the crude-rich Middle East

London, United Kingdom – Major equity markets mostly rallied Tuesday as top Federal Reserve officials suggested a recent spike in US Treasury yields could prevent more interest rate hikes, while oil dipped one day after spiking on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Europe’s main stock markets jumped more than 1.5 percent approaching the half-way stage, and after a largely upbeat session in Asia and overnight on Wall Street.

Oil prices dropped, having soared Monday after Palestinian group Hamas unexpectedly launched a deadly attack on Israel, stoking fear of spreading unrest in the crude-rich Middle East.

“Equity markets are bouncing back on Tuesday after a risk-averse start to the week, buoyed… by some promising Fed commentary,” said analyst Craig Erlam at trading firm OANDA.

“It would appear the recent surge in bond yields hasn’t gone unnoticed at the central bank, to the extent that Fed officials are coming across as less hawkish in their views.”

Traders remained on edge as Israel carried out retaliatory attacks in Gaza.

The death toll in Israel has surged above 900 from the worst attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials have reported 687 people killed.

“It is perhaps a little surprising that markets have bounced back as quickly and strongly as they have given the clear risk aversion we saw at the start of the week,” added Erlam.

“Hamas attacks in Israel created uncertainty around the Middle East and investors will no doubt continue to monitor the situation very closely.”

Israel pounded Hamas targets in Gaza Tuesday and said the bodies of 1,500 members of Hamas were found in southern towns recaptured by the army in grueling battles near the Palestinian enclave.

Claims that Tehran helped Hamas plan the raids have stoked fears Israel will hit major crude producer Iran, which would cause a major escalation and likely send prices higher. Iran has denied the claims.

Despite simmering geopolitical tensions, sentiment was helped by Friday’s forecast-busting US jobs report that also showed wage gains slowing — a so-called “Goldilocks” scenario in which the data was neither too weak nor too strong.

The upbeat mood was boosted Monday after Fed Vice Chair Philip Jefferson said the recent spike in US Treasury yields to multi-year highs could provide the necessary restraint on credit that would be achieved by higher interest rates.

“Looking ahead, I will remain cognisant of the tightening in financial conditions through higher bond yields and will keep that in mind as I assess the future path of policy,” he told a National Association for Business Economics conference in Dallas.

His comments echoed those of Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan, who suggested that if bond market costs were on the rise, that “could do some of the work of cooling the economy for us, leaving less need for additional monetary policy tightening”.