Oil Ruins Wall Street's Week...Again

Rise in oil prices fuels losses

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It was looking like such a good week on Wall Street. New unemployment claims were down, the jobs report wasn't terrible, and cyclical stocks were trading high. So why did the did the Dow need a furious late-day rally to avoid finishing down for the week?

A spike in oil prices following renewed violence in Libya is the most widely cited reason for the losses. After days of relative calm, the conflict between rebels and troops intensified again Friday. Of particular concern to investors, writes The Wall Street Journal's Dan Strumpf, was "the status of the port city of Brega, an important oil refining town that has been the site of heavy fighting between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebel groups" as reports emerged that rebels had seized control of the town. Factor in the Egyptian uprising and political situations in Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Oman, says Forbes energy blogger Marin Katusa, and a picture emerges of a region that is "unsettled, to say the least."

At Reuters, Angela Moon says unrealistic expectations about the new unemployment numbers contributed to the losses. The dip in first time jobless claims "raised expectations about Friday's employment report" to unrealistic levels. "After the report showed February job gains roughly in line with expectations, investors quickly turned their focus to rising oil prices and political unrest in northern Africa and the Middle East."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.