GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slide, oil prices jump after Yemen air strikes

jueves 26 de marzo de 2015 18:37 GYT

(Fixes dropped word in first paragraph)
    * Wall St narrows losses to close mildly down
    * Oil rises on fears of Middle East supply disruption over
    * Gold tops $1,200 an ounce

    By Michael Connor
    NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - Oil prices jumped 5 percent
and stock markets worldwide slumped on Thursday after Saudi
Arabia and allies carried out air strikes in Yemen, which fueled
worries in the Middle East that energy shipments may be put at
    Wall Street steadied in late trading, narrowing losses that
had been as much as 1 percent to close just modestly lower with
support from economic data and corporate earnings reports.
    "The air strikes in Yemen have really created a risk-off
mood," said Rabobank strategist Philip Marey. 
    Brent oil closed up nearly 5 percent at $59.19 a
barrel, but off a session high of $59.78. U.S. crude 
closed up 4.5 percent at $51.43 a barrel after reaching $52.48. 
    The MSCI world equity index, which tracks
shares in 45 countries, was last off 0.80 percent.
    In currency markets, the dollar fell against traditional
safe havens the Swiss franc and the yen after warplanes from
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries struck Shi'ite Muslim
rebels fighting to oust Yemen's president. 
    The dollar later recovered against the franc and was
last up 0.4 percent at 0.9633 francs. Against the yen, the
dollar was last at 119.26 yen, off 0.18 percent.
    The dollar was down earlier against the euro but
recovered in New York trading on the view that central bank
policy was more favorable for the U.S. currency. The euro was
last off 0.80 percent at $1.0884.
    Iran denounced the attacks as the Saudi military also
targeted Iran-backed Houthi rebels besieging the southern Yemen
city of Aden. Arab producers ship oil via the narrow Gulf of
Aden and the prospect of bigger Middle East conflict sparked
fears of a disruption of crude supplies.
    A vertiginous slide in oil prices from more than $115 a
barrel last June to a low of $45 in January has been a major
driver of financial markets and a key factor driving global
interest rates down and stock markets up.    
    The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down
0.8 percent. In Germany, a major industrial economy heavily
dependent on oil imports, the DAX index ended off 0.2
    Wall Street's Dow Jones industrial average closed off
40.31 points, or 0.23 percent, to 17,678.23, the S&P 500 
lost 4.9 points, or 0.24 percent, to 2,056.15 and the Nasdaq
Composite dropped 13.16 points, or 0.27 percent, to
    Gold rose, climbing 0.75 percent to $1,203.20 an ounce
, supported by the weak dollar and Middle East tensions.
    Yields on U.S. Treasuries, often a safe haven for fretful
investors, rose as the government held a sale of $29 billion of
Treasury notes that met with soft demand. The benchmark 10-year
note was off 25/32 and yielded 2.0069 percent,
compared to 1.92 percent on Wednesday.

 (Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Nigel Stephenson in
London; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)