The tense stand-off in Egypt dominated market sentiment Monday as investors fretted about the potential impact on oil supplies and whether any other government in the region may soon face the wrath of its people.
With the protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak showing little sign of abating a week after they began, investors' appetite for risky trades remains subdued and stocks have traded in fairly narrow ranges.
The main source of uncertainty in the markets at the moment centers on what may happen to oil prices should the unrest in Egypt turn even uglier or spread to other countries in the region.
The price of Brent crude oil in London was at 28-month highs near $100 a barrel on Monday. U.S. crude, as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, is not far behind at around $90 a barrel, BusinessWeek reports.
Egypt itself is not a major oil producer, but Egypt's Suez Canal is a key oil transit route. Nearly two million barrels a day are shipped through the canal, and another one million move through the Sumed pipeline that also runs through the country.
If the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia spreads to the major oil producers in the Middle East, it could certainly have a major impact on economy, CBS News reports.