European stocks traded lower on Friday; Oil prices spiked
European stocks traded lower on Friday as geopolitical tensions spiked after U.S. airstrikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian military commander.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 slid 0.5% in early trade, travel and leisure stocks falling 1.4% to lead losses as all sectors traded in the red except oil and gas, which surged 0.9% on the back of renewed unrest in the Middle East.
Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani, head of Tehran’s elite Quds Force, was killed early on Friday by a U.S. airstrike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon has confirmed.
Iran’s Foreign Minister has tweeted that the U.S. bears responsibility for all consequences of its “rogue adventurism,” while Fars News Agency reported a spokesman as saying that Iran’s top security body will meet to discuss Tehran’s response.
Oil prices spiked following the attack, with Brent Crude and WTI both up more than 3% Friday morning.
Major Asian markets declined by Friday afternoon as investors weighed the impact of renewed tensions in the Middle East, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leading losses.
Stocks on the move
Britain’s Tullow Oil led the charge for the oil and gas sector to climb 4.1% in early deals.
Airlines Lufthansa and Air France KLM slid 5.5% and 4.1% respectively, while Easyjet and IAG also declined on the back of the sharp rise in oil prices.