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Egypt protests hit oil and markets

posted 31 Jan 2011, 10:20 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 31 Jan 2011, 10:23 ]
As unrest continues in Egypt investors' worries send global stocks down and push up the price of crude oil to $100 a barrel.
EGYPT-MARKET FEARS - Protesters line the streets of Cairo for the seventh day of demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak.

As civil unrest grows, the protests are weighing on the economy - in Egypt and abroad.

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded Egypt's credit outlook due to the political crisis.

Egypt's stock exchange remains shut - and the country's central bank decided to keep many banks closed to prevent looting - although some citizens were able to withdraw money from ATMS.

And Egyptians working in the tourism industry say they're struggling, as the protests keep visitors away.

The demonstrations are also worrying investors around the globe - they've sent stock markets like here in Jordan downwards - while pushing up the price of oil.

Robert Ruttman a strategist at Credit Suisse says it's all about sentiment.

Robert Ruttman, EMEA Equity Strategist at Credit Suisse, saying:

"Egypt doesn't even make up one percent of the stock market capitalisation of the MSCI Emerging Markets index, which means in terms of its market weight, its influence isn't very large. Its influence comes more in terms of the sentiment to investor temperaments and that is not to be underestimated."

Ruttman expects to see volatility on global markets until there's some kind of political transition in Egypt.

Some investors are concerned similar unrest could reach other countries in the middle East - especially the oil-rich Gulf states - a region which produces over a third of the world's oil.

Some analysts think oil will head higher in 2011 - but not only because of Egypt.

Edward Morse, Head of Global Commodities Research at Credit Suisse, saying:

"I would not be surprised to see oil in the range of $100 to $110 for some part of the year, coming back below $100 other parts of the year. I think it will take a real disruption of oil supply to really spook the market."

Crude touched $100 a barrel on Monday afternoon - and the price has risen by over 4 percent in the last week.

The demonstrators have vowed to continue until Mubarak quits.

Markets and investors hate uncertainty - and with no end to the unrest in sight - stocks may slide further as oil might again head past the $100 mark.

Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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