According to several news wire reports, Saudi Arabian police opened fire on Thursday at protests occurring in the kingdom's east, specifically in the city of Qatif. The hundreds of mainly Shiite protesters were confronted with gunfire and stun grenades as police tried to clamp down on activists calling for democratic reforms. Groups had pegged this Friday for a "Day of Rage" aimed at bringing awareness for greater freedom in Saudia Arabia, even though the nation banned public protests last week.
As of this morning, western media outlets noted that the impact of the Saudi protests on oil prices has so far been minimal. "Here's What The Market Thinks About Your So-Called 'Day Of Rage,'" noted Joe Weisenthal's headline at Business Insider, Weisenthal pointing to rising stocks and falling oil prices. That all changed in the afternoon as the price of crude oil jumped in what appeared to be a response of the scattered reports coming from the police shootings.
The Wall Street Journal's Matt Philips cautions, "the markets are clearly focused on the prospect for Mideast uncertainty to drive the price of black gold higher. And as we’ve mentioned before the prospect of instability striking the Saudis is something of the nightmare scenario that could drive oil above that $120 level everybody seems to be watching as the line that, if crossed, could lead to real damage to the U.S. economy."
Updated: Reuters reports that the Saudi Arabian protests caused the Dow's worst day in seven months, the industrial average fell 228.48 points.