Global markets mixed as geopolitical tensions rise

Global stock markets are mixed as geopolitical risks weigh on sentiment (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

New York (AFP) - Global markets were mixed at the start of a holiday-shortened week on Monday as investors remained cautious in the face of uncertainty over Syria and tightening polls in the French presidential election.

Traders said investors were concerned about tensions between the United States and Russia after US President Donald Trump suggested there could be no peace in Syria while Moscow-backed President Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

Markets were "struggling for direction amid a lack of significant macroeconomic and corporate releases," Accendo Markets analyst Henry Croft said.

"Rising geopolitical tensions are keeping a lid on any major market moves, despite investors once again returning to equities" after the US air strike against Syria last week sent them scurrying to safe havens such as gold, the yen and US treasuries last week.

US stocks finished marginally higher, while London was flat and Frankfurt down slightly. That may change as the corporate earnings period picks up later this week.

France's CAC 40 suffered the heaviest losses of the major eurozone markets, as opinion polls showed left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon -- who had previously not been seen as a serious contender -- gaining ground ahead of the first round of voting in the presidential election on April 23.

US oil prices finished up 1.6 percent as markets begin to look ahead to the warmer weather and peak summer driving season. Petroleum-linked equities in the US were especially strong, with ExxonMobil and Chevron advancing.

Also in the US, Tesla Motors shot up 3.3 percent following an upgrade by stocks analyst Piper Jaffray, a jump that allowed the electric-car maker to overtake GM in market capitalization despite GM's much larger sales and revenues.

Among the gainers in London, mining giant BHP Billiton added 2.5 percent on news that major shareholder Elliott Funds had written to directors urging them to carry out a major restructuring.

- Key figures at 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 20,658.02 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,357.16 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 5,880.93 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,348.94 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,200.52 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 5,107.45 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,485.33(close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 18,797.88 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: FLAT at 24,262.18 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,269.39 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0596 from $1.0590

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2412 from 1.2372

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.89 yen from 111.09 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 84 cents at $53.08 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 74 cents at $55.98 per barrel