Russia’s RTS stock-index futures declined as violence intensified in Libya, pushing oil to a two-year high and raising the prospect of higher fuel prices.
Futures on the RTS expiring in March dropped 1 percent to 183,340 at 3:50 p.m. New York time yesterday. Contracts on OAO Gazprom, the natural-gas export monopoly, slid 0.8 percent. Futures on OAO Lukoil, the country’s second-biggest oil producer, fell 0.3 percent. Russian markets are closed today for Defenders of the Fatherland Day.
“There is some risk aversion taking place,” Luis Saenz, the London-based director of international sales at brokerage Otkritie Securities Ltd., said in a telephone interview. The “repercussions from what’s happening in Libya” are weighing on stocks, he said.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi vowed yesterday to fight a growing rebellion until his “last drop of blood” and pledged to deploy the army and police to impose order. Continued protests “will lead to civil war,” Qaddafi said from the capital, Tripoli.
Qaddafi’s crackdown on a weeklong uprising has already left more than 200 dead, according to Human Rights Watch. In Benghazi, the independence flag of the constitutional monarchy overthrown by Qaddafi in 1969 flew on streets and over several buildings.
Oil for March delivery jumped 8.6 percent to $93.57 a barrel on concern that supplies will be disrupted amid the turmoil in the Middle East. Brent crude for April settlement gained 0.5 percent to $106.25 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange yesterday. Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Global equities fell yesterday with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index plunging 2.1 percent and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index declining 1.7 percent.
The 30-stock Micex Index fell yesterday as much as 1.8 percent and closed 0.7 percent lower at 1,700.98 in Moscow. OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, slipped 1.9 percent and OAO Severstal, the largest steelmaker, retreated 1.2 percent. Gazprom dropped 0.6 percent.