Oil prices jump, shares sink as Ukraine conflict deepens

Tokyo: Oil prices jumped and shares were sharply lower Monday as the conflict in Ukraine deepened amid mounting calls for harsher sanctions against Russia.
Brent crude oil briefly surged above 130 a barrel but was trading around 125 a barrel later Monday. Benchmark US crude also bounced, gaining 10 and then giving up some of that advance.
European markets opened lower and US futures were down 1.7%. The price of gold surged above 2,000 an ounce as investors bought the precious metal viewed as a safe haven in times of crisis.
Russian forces were pummelling some Ukrainian cities with rockets even after Moscow announced another cease-fire and proposed a handful of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine starting Monday.
A similar temporary cease-fire in two Ukrainian cities failed over the weekend and both sides blamed each other.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House was exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the US
Oil prices came under additional pressure after Libya’s national oil company said an armed group had shut down two crucial oil fields. The move caused the country’s daily oil output to drop by 330,000.
But reports said US officials may be considering easing sanctions against Venezuela.
That potentially could free up more crude oil and ease concerns about reduced supplies from Russia.
US crude jumped 6.92 to 122.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The all-time high was marked in July 2008, when the price per barrel of US crude climbed to 145.29.
That pushed the average price for gasoline in the US above 4 a gallon, a milestone already reached again.
The price of regular gasoline rose almost 41 cents, breaking 4 per gallon (3.8 litres) on average across the US. on Sunday for the first time since 2008, according to the AAA motor club.
Brent crude, the international pricing standard, hit 139.13 per barrel before falling back Monday. It was trading up 6.57 at 124.68 a barrel in London.
In early European trading, France’s CAC 40 dipped 3% to 5,879.70, while Germany’s DAX lost 3.2% to 12,675.43. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1.4% to 6,890.71. U.S. shares were set to start the week lower, with the futures for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 down 1.8%.
Higher fuel costs are devastating for Japan, which imports almost all its energy. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 2.9% to 25,221.41.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 3.9% to 21,057.63, while South Korea’s Kospi slipped 2.3% to 2,651.31. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.0% to 7,038.60. while the Shanghai Composite lost 2.2% to 3,372.86.

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