Oil rose to a two-year high and gold rallied for a sixth day surpassing $1,400 an ounce, as tension in the Middle East escalated. Stocks fell for the most in a month as Eni SpA led companies with operations in Libya lower.
Brent crude gained as much as 2.5 percent, trading up 2.4 percent at 10:40 a.m. in New York. Gold climbed 1.1 percent and silver added 3.4 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 1.3 percent, with Eni sinking the most since July 2009 on a closing basis. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.8 percent. Bahrain’s 2020 bond yield increased for a 10th day after S&P cut its debt rating. The New Zealand dollar strengthened against its major peers. U.S. markets were closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Libyan security forces attacked anti-government protesters as demonstrations spread across the Middle East and North Africa, a region that accounts for 36 percent of global crude output. Chinese authorities blocked foreign news reports on protests across the country to stamp out any movement toward pro-democracy revolts.
“You’ve got to be very concerned, particularly because it can affect the oil price, and if you have the oil price spike up another $20, $30, you could reenter a global recession,” Bill Belchere, global chief economist at Mirae Asset Securities, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong.
Brent crude rose to as high as $105.08 in London. West Texas Intermediate oil for April delivery jumped 4.2 percent to $93.49 a barrel in New York. Gold climbed to as high as $1,404.22 an ounce, and last traded at $1,404.15. Silver rose to a 30-year high of $33.7625 an ounce.