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Global stocks drift lower as major markets remain closed for Easter holiday

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Global stocks drift lower as major markets remain closed for Easter observances. Stocks, however, remained muted as European markets stayed closed and bourses trading in Asia booked modest losses, led by sharp single-day pullbacks in China.

Oil prices tested six months highs amid reports that the US will end waivers for the purchase of Iranian crude next week. The US imposed sanctions on the purchase of Iranian crude in November of last year but granted waivers to eight different nations that would allow them to continue importing oil from Tehran for a further six months.

Focus remains on Sri Lanka following a spate of bomb attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday which killed at least 290 people and injured over 500 others. There was still no claim of responsibility Monday.

Asian markets recap

The main stock indexes of the Asia-Pacific region ended the first session of the week without a single direction amid Washington’s menace to end the grace period of the largest buyers of Iranian oil, threatening them with sanctions if they continue to buy the raw material from Tehran.

Stock exchanges in Australia and Hong Kong were closed for Easter holidays.

In Japan, the blue-chip index Nikkei 225 added 17.34 points, or 0.08%, to a level of 22,227.90 points. The shares of Fast Retailing, Softbank Group, and Fanuc declined to 0.09%, 0.65%, and 1.41% respectively. The stocks of Nissan Motor Co added 0.55% after Japanese media reported that former president of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi car alliance, Carlos Ghosn was accused of new financial abuse by the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office and will remain in custody.

Japan Nikkei 225

On Friday, Bloomberg said that Japan’s core consumer price index rose in March before the expected fall in price pressure later this year to heighten the challenges facing the central bank. Consumer prices in Japan rose by 0.5% YoY in March, meeting analyst expectations and reaching its highest levels since November last year. For comparison, a month earlier, inflation was 0.2%.

In South Korea, the local index Kospi advanced by 0.02% to 2,216.65 points. The stocks of the microprocessor manufacturer SK Hynix reported a decline of 1.96%.

On the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the mainland index Shanghai Composite fell by 55.69 points, or 1.70%, to 3,215.10 points.

The shares of the largest bank in the world by asset size Industrial & Commercial Bank of China declined by 2.51% against the news of the newly appointed party secretary of the creditor.

The stock exchange in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was closed today due to a series of explosions that rocked the country and killed more than 200 people on Sunday during the celebration of Easter holidays.

Wall Street pre-session recap

Wall Street stock index futures were lower Monday morning ahead of what could be a quiet day of trading following the Easter break but one of the busiest earnings weeks of the season.

Around 06:20 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a drop of more than 47 points at the open. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were also seen slightly lower.

Corporate results remain the biggest focus for the US this week. On Monday, Halliburton is due to report before the bell. Other companies reporting earnings include Kimberly-Clark and, after the bell, Whirlpool and Celanese. Corporate earnings will once again dominate the trading session, both today and for the remainder of the week, as the first quarter reporting season kicks into high gear with 155 companies – representing around $9 trillion in market value – set to update on performance and near-term forecasts.

On the data front, existing home sales for March are expected at 10 a.m. ET.