Political protests in Egypt send world stock market falling

The political protests in Egypt have sent world stock markets falling and pushed up the oil price ag

The prospect of widespread disruption in the Middle East has hit the markets.

Gary Jenkins, head of fixed income research at Evolution Securities, believes the Middle East has now replaced the eurozone debt crisis as the primary concern in investors' minds.

In London, the FTSE fell by 37 points to 0.6% to 5843 this morning, a seven-week low.

Holiday firms including Thomas Cook dropped and International Airlines Group, formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, fell by nearly 4.

The Japanese stock market closed at its lowest level in a month.There were also losses in South Korea and Hong Kong.

The Dow Jones index had fallen 1.4% on Friday, with the Nasdaq down by almost 2.5%.

The situation in Egypt, where protesters continue to demand an end to Hosni Mubarak's rule, has led ratings agency Moody's to downgrade Egypt's debt rating from stable to negative.

The Dubai financial market has dropped by over 4 per cent and Middle Eastern stock markets fell heavily yesterday.

The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has reached a 28 month high of $99.97 amidst fears that the Suez Canal might be closed and oil tankers would have to sail an extra 6,000miles around Africa to transport oil from the Middle East to America. US crude oil also rose, to $90.80.

The waterway is reportedly secured by armed guards but this has done little to alleviate concerns over the region.

Kenji Sekiguchi of Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management told Bloomberg: "We cannot ignore the possibility that the chaos will spill over from Egypt into oil-producing nations".