Japan's massive earthquake and devastating tsunami slammed risk assets across the world on Friday, but the still unknown damage to the world's third-largest economy later drove some markets higher.
Oil prices slid more than $3 a barrel at one point and equity markets initially sold off as investors tried to assess the impact after Japan's biggest earthquake on record hit the country's northeast, leaving at least 1,000 dead. For details see [ID:nL3E7EB239].
The quake, the most powerful since Japan started keeping records 140 years ago, sparked at least 80 fires in coastal cities and towns, Kyodo said. Japanese nuclear power plants and oil refineries were shut and one refinery was ablaze.
But some U.S. markets rose late in the session, with gold rising after the dollar weakened against the euro and U.S. stocks posted clear gains. Copper steadied by the close, recovering from an earlier three-month low, as investors reassessed the likely fallout.
With nearly the entire Japanese economy grinding to a halt from the earthquake for the short term future and no protests in Saudi Arabia have put downward pressure on oil prices.The magnitude 8.9 quake may prompt insurance firms to sell assets to pay claims for damages, and bond investors were watching to see if insurers dispose of U.S. government debt to raise cash.