Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as a screen shows a photo of Osama bin Laden, May 2, 2011. Image Credit: Reuters

Tokyo: Major world stock markets rose, the dollar strengthened and oil prices were lower after news that US forces killed terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden following a near-decade-long manhunt.

US President Barack Obama announced during holiday-thinned Asian trading hours that the man who inspired the deadly September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States was killed in Pakistan in a US-led operation.

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Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.6 per cent to 10,004.20 - the highest closing since an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 decimated the country's northeastern coast.

South Korea's Kospi index, meanwhile, advanced 1.7 per  cent to a new record high of 2,228.96, bringing the Seoul benchmark's gain so far this year to 8.7 percent.

European markets opened higher. France's CAC-40 rose 0.3 per cent to 4,120.03 and Germany's DAX gained 0.7 per cent to 7,563.52. Britain's FTSE 100 was closed for a holiday.

Wall Street, meanwhile, was set to open higher. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.6 per cent to 12,837 and S&P futures gained 0.6 per cent 1,367.80.

Ben Potter, market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia, said that Bin Laden's death was an immediate boost for equity markets.

"However, like many euphoric bounces, they are often short lived, especially given the possibility for reprisal attacks from extremists," he wrote in a report.

Dollar rises

The greenback rose to 81.51 yen from 81.10 yen. The euro, meanwhile, was weaker at $1.4819 from $1.4839 late Friday in New York.

The dollar was bought on the belief that "terror risk will get smaller" for the United States, said Yuji Kameoka, chief currency strategist at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets in Tokyo. He said that yen weakness and a decline in the price of crude oil were boosting Japanese stock prices.

Oil prices down

Oil prices eased off two-year highs to below $113 a barrel after Obama announced bin Laden's had been killed.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was down $1.40 at $112.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $113.93 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday and reached $114.18 during in the session, the highest since September 2008.

Declining oil prices helped boost shares of airlines, which are sensitive to fuel prices. Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd., the country's largest air carrier, soared 6.6 per cent. Rival Asiana Airlines Inc. soared 12 per cent. Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. jumped 2.5 percent.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200, meanwhile, recovered from early losses to rise less than 0.1 percent to 4,825.30. Markets in the Philippines and Indonesia also rose, but New Zealand and India were lower.

Markets in Japan and South Korea started in positive territory after the Dow Jones industrial average rose on Friday on positive earnings news as construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar reported strong first-quarter profit.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.13 points, or 0.2 pe rcent, to close at 1,363.61. The index gained 2.8 per cent in April. The Nasdaq composite added 1.01 point to 2,873.54. It rose 3.3 per cent for the month.

The news could reduce the risk premium swelling prices because of war in Libya and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, although Obama did urge vigilance against the risk of anti-American violence.

"If Osama is taken out, you are going to see risk premium being wiped out from the market. It is going to bring down oil prices by $5 to $10 if people warrant that risk premium is important," said Jonathan Barratt, managing director of Commodity Broking Services, based in Sydney.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was down $1.40 at $112.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for June delivery was down $1.09 to $124.80 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex trading in May contracts, heating oil fell 2.7 cents to $3.25 a gallon and gasoline dropped 2.3 cents to $3.38 a gallon. Natural gas June futures were down 0.5 cent at $4.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.

"Oil markets are likely to be the most volatile given their higher sensitivity to the tug of war between lower risk overall and the possibility of isolated disturbances in some parts of the Middle East and central Asia," said Mohamed Al Erian, chief executive and co-chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund manager.
Oil was already down before the news about Bin Laden, after Nato air strikes over the weekend killed one of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's sons and after industry sources said that Saudi Arabia raised output in April.

Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were killed in a Nato air strike, the Libyan government said on Sunday. Britain said that while it was not targeting the leader, it was homing in on the regime's military machine.

Asian stocks gain

Asian stocks earlier gained after Warren Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway Inc. would be "delighted" to invest in Japan and elsewhere in the region, as data showed South Korean exports rose to a record in April and Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said next week's budget will forecast the creation of 500,000 jobs within two years.

"This is a positive development in the campaign against terrorism," said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Manila-based Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. in Manila. "In the last 10 years, bin Laden's presence has been a serious threat to global stability. The flipside is this could be followed by retaliation activities from his supporters."

Gold prices fall

Spot gold prices fell a little over $5 to $1,540.39 an ounce immediately after the reports of Bin Laden's death, having earlier touched an all-time high of $1,575.79. By 0502 GMT, gold had recovered to $1,549.56.

Silver tumbled as much as 13 per cent.  Spot silver stood at $44.64 an ounce, down 6.6 percent on the day, while COMEX silver for July delivery traded at $44.41 an ounce versus $48.599 on Friday. Prices dipped as low as $42.80 for spot and $42.20 in futures markets.

"Silver is an accident waiting to happen, and it seems like it has incurred 'bumper' damage today," said David Thurtell, an analyst at Citigroup.

Markets across large parts of Asia and much of Europe were closed for May Day and Labour day holidays, reducing the number of market participants and making for volatile trade.

Chicago Board of Trade front-month May corn, which is linked to crude prices though its use in ethanol, fell 1.8 per cent to $7.40-1/2 a bushel, leading losses for wheat, down 1.01 per cent to 7.61-1/2 a bushel.

Further pressure on the corn market came from forecasts of improved weather in the US Midwest that brightened hopes for this year's delayed plantings.

Dollar strengthens

The dollar had strengthened by nearly 0.3 per cent earlier on Monday following last week's slide, deterring investors from piling into commodities this week.

Last week's Federal Reserve reassurance that economic stimulus would continue had hammered the dollar to a three-year low, boosting US crude to above $114 on Friday, the highest since September 2008, and gold to a record earlier on Monday.

But markets' swift fall in response to Monday's news of Bin Laden's death could turn out to be brief, one analyst said.

The US dollar rebounded from a three-year low against a basket of currencies on Monday as news of Bin Laden prompted short-covering in a heavily-sold greenback, though traders think any impact will be temporary.

The currency was due for a corrective rebound, dealers said, with players having sold the dollar against pretty much everything from the euro and commodity currencies to oil and precious metals for the past few weeks.