Global stocks decline ahead of continued civil unrest in Libya.
Markets retreat on worries over Libya
Stock markets from New York to Shanghai fell yesterday as fears over the economic implications of rising violence in Libya and unrest elsewhere in the Mena region sparked a global sell-off of shares and a shift into commodities.
"The political instability in the Arab region is causing investors around the world to … maintain lower exposure to the equity market," said Tariq Qaqish, a fund manager at Al Mal Capital.
Gold rose US$4.04 to 1,401.82 an ounce, trading at a seven-week high. Silver rose 1.1 per cent to $33.26 an ounce, a 30-year high.
Oil continued to surge, reaching its highest price since September 2008. Crude oil for April delivery on the Nymex rose as high as $98.49 a barrel, the most since October 2008.
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"Higher oil prices are negative for global growth," said Giyas Gokkent, the chief economist at National Bank of Abu Dhabi. "They act like a tax for consumption for non-oil economies, who are now asking for something to be done to address this problem."
Asian stocks fell, sending the MSCI Asia Pacific Index down 1.9 per cent to 137.13, its lowest since January 20. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank 1.9 per cent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.6 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index decreased 2.1 per cent.
New Zealand, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan were also not immune to the global sell-offs.
In Europe, the regional index faced declines for the third consecutive day. In New York, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.1 per cent to 1,327.52 at the opening, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.6 per cent to 2,786.03 in morning trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 per cent to 1,2279.32.
More: For coverage of unrest across the wider Middle East click here.