World markets hit by oil price hike

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The FTSE 100 Index was down 60.8 points at 5874.9

Global markets have been put under pressure again as attention returned to the potential impact of sky-high oil prices on economic growth prospects.

The ongoing crisis in Libya and fears that the unrest might spread to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, caused the price of Brent crude to reach 115 US dollars a barrel on Tuesday night.

And with key unemployment figures due in the United States later in the week, investors were content to take their money off the table and leave the FTSE 100 Index 60.8 points lower at 5874.9.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei finished more than 2% down on fears a further global slowdown could weigh on major exporters such as Toshiba, Sony and Toyota.

London’s blue-chip fallers board was topped by leisure group Whitbread after it revealed a weaker trend for sales growth.

Whitbread explained it was facing tougher comparatives with a year earlier, but the Costa, Premier Inn and Beefeater owner still dropped 5% or 90.5p to 1643.5p.

In the FTSE 250 Index, ITV shares were 5% higher after the broadcaster said its transformation plan gathered momentum following a near-tripling in full-year profits.

It also said net advertising revenues were expected to be up 12% in the current quarter and added that it intended to restore its dividend this summer.

Shares were 4.6p higher at 90.1p.

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