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Wall Street still isn't fretting about geopolitics, even after Iran attacked Israel

The flags of Iran, left, and Israel, right.
The flags of Iran, left, and Israel, right.Manuel Augusto Moreno/Getty Images
  • Wall Street has had a muted reaction to Iran's attack on Israel so far.

  • US stock futures rose in Monday's premarket, while benchmark oil prices dropped.

  • It's another reminder that traders are more worried about interest rates than geopolitical tensions.

The market served up another reminder of its indifference to geopolitics on Monday, as traders seemingly shrugged off the potential impact of Iran's strikes on Israel.

US stock futures climbed higher in premarket trading to pare back some of their losses from a rough Friday session, while benchmark Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil prices fell despite the threat of supply disruptions in the Middle East.

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Meanwhile, both gold and the US Dollar Index — which tracks the greenback's strength against a basket of six other currencies — started off the week in the red, in a sign investors are shunning so-called "safe-haven" assets despite the potential for increased volatility. Yields on 10-year US Treasury notes traded flat.

Signs that the conflict between the two countries won't escalate any further have calmed the market's nerves, XTB research director Kathleen Brooks said on Monday. Iran said in a statement that "the matter can be deemed concluded," while Joe Biden has signaled that the US won't take part in any counter-strike against Tehran.

"There is a sense that this attack from Iran could have been a lot worse, instead Iran has drawn a line under it and said that it deems the matter concluded," Brooks wrote in a research note. "From a geopolitical perspective, the focus now is on the Israeli response, however, the limited impact of the Iranian attack and the G7 calling for restraint, may limit the impact on financial markets in the short term."

"The initial reaction seems to be one of relief," she added. "The dollar opened the week fairly muted and US bond yields are slightly higher, suggesting that there was no flight to safe havens."

Anyone who's been following markets for the past two years won't be surprised at traders' muted reaction to the latest tensions in the Middle East.

While big names on Wall Street including JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon and billionaire Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio have repeatedly warned of a global crisis, the market has tended to respond to developments surrounding Israel by shrugging its shoulders.

Since Hamas' first attack on October 7, the S&P 500 has climbed 19% — while oil benchmarks have ticked up by around $7 a barrel, much shallower gains than might have been expected amid a conflict in the vicinity of many of the world's biggest oil producers.

Capital Economics ' group chief economist Neal Shearing said in a research note on Sunday that Iran's drone strikes are unlikely to impact stocks unless they drive a massive run-up in crude prices that leads to the Federal Reserve delaying its first expected interest-rate cut.

"The key risks for the global economy are whether this now escalates into a broader regional conflict, and what the response is in energy markets," he said.

"As things stand our sense is that events in the Middle East will add to the reasons for the Fed to adopt a more cautious approach to rate cuts, but they won't prevent it from cutting altogether," Shearing added, noting that the OPEC+ cartel choosing to up production levels could offset any price rises driven by Iran's attack.

It's a reminder that the key person who'll shape the direction US stocks go this year isn't Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei — it's the central bank's chair, Jerome Powell.

Read the original article on Business Insider