Alexa

Oil prices surge on Middle East unrest

Oil prices surge on Middle East unrest

Oil prices surged Friday as thousands continued to riot against the government in Egypt, and unrest threatened to spread across the Middle East.
Benchmark oil rose $3.49, or 4.1 percent, to $89.13 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices jumped about $2 a barrel in less than half an hour after the White House expressed its concern about the violence in Egypt.
Anxious traders pulled money from other assets to buy oil, gold and the dollar, which are considered safer risks during uncertain times.
"This is definitely a flight into safety," said Rich Ilczyszyn, a senior market strategist with futures brokers Lind-Waldock.
The uprising in Egypt follows protests this month that forced out the president of Tunisia, who fled to Saudi Arabia. Anti-government protests have also rocked Lebanon and Yemen.
Oil prices started to rise earlier Friday after the Commerce Department said the economy got stronger at the end of last year as Americans spent at the fastest pace in four years and U.S. companies sold more overseas. In 2010 the economy grew 2.9 percent, the most since 2005.
Investors were also encouraged by Chevron's fourth-quarter earnings report, which showed profits up 72 percent and a sharp turnaround in its refinery business.
Americans already have started watching their budgets and adjusting their spending as gas prices stay above $3 a gallon. Analysts are concerned that lingering high prices will force consumers to take more steps to conserve, which would affect the economic recovery.
In other Nymex trading in March contracts, heating oil gained 5 cents at $2.7015 a gallon, gasoline added 7 cents at $2.4856 a gallon and natural gas fell 3 cents to $4.292 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude added $1.80 at $99.19 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.


Updated : 2021-04-17 01:15 GMT+08:00