Pedestrians reflected in window of securities company displaying Tokyo Stock Exchange
Hong Kong - AFP
Asian markets advanced Friday, clawing back some of the previous day's losses but traders remain on edge as they track the crisis in Yemen, with fears that unrest in the country could turn into a wider Middle East conflict.
The gains came despite another sell-off on Wall Street, although the euro struggled to regain its recent strength after tumbling in New York from levels above $1.10 earlier in the day.
Oil price also dipped a day after surging in reaction to the unrest in Yemen.
Tokyo rose 0.10 percent, Sydney rallied 0.90 percent, Hong Kong gained 0.18 percent and Shanghai put on 0.12 percent while Seoul was up 0.10 percent.
US traders ran for the sidelines Thursday after it emerged that Saudi Arabian jets targeted rebel positions as part of its support of Yemen's president, who fled his presidential complex Wednesday after it was attacked by a warplane.
Iran condemned the action by a Saudi coalition of regional Sunni nations, which has exacerbated longstanding Saudi-Iranian tensions. Saudi Arabia ramped up security along its borders and across the kingdom, including at oil facilities.
In New York the Dow eased 0.23 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.24 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.27 percent.
The events sent oil prices racing higher Thursday owing to worries about supplies from the crude-rich region.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) jumped $2.22, or 4.5 percent, to $51.43, its highest level in more than three weeks, while Brent jumped $2.71 to $59.19.
However, on Friday the two contracts receded a touch. WTI was down 40 cents at $51.03 and Brent eased 34 cents to $58.85.
"While we’ve got no actual supply disruption it’s pretty clear that the market is focused on the potential here, which is enormous," Michael McCarthy, a chief markets strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told Bloomberg News. "We’re likely to see a further increase in volatility as the price reacts to developments.”
The edginess has led dealers into safer investments, lifting the dollar against the euro after a recent sell-off.
In morning trade the euro, which was above $1.10 in Tokyo Thursday, bought $1.0887 on Friday, compared with $1.0884 in US trade.
The single currency was also at 129.78 yen against 129.71 yen in New York but well off the 130.65 yen earlier in Asia.
The dollar was at 119.30 yen, compared with 119.18 yen in New York late Thursday, with seemingly little effect from news that Japanese inflation was flat in February.
Gold fetched $1,203.53 against $1,205.54 late Thursday.