Oil Surges and Stock Markets Edge Lower Amid Worries Over Saudi Arabia

Oil prices jumped on Monday after an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities raised concerns about the supply of crude on world markets.

Futures for Brent crude, the international benchmark, briefly jumped nearly 20 percent when trading started in Asia, but the gains have since eased. The price was recently close to $69 a barrel, an increase of more than 14 percent.

On Saturday, two Saudi oil facilities were hit in an attack that caused a cut in production that may last for days or weeks. But President Trump suggested on Sunday that he could release supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and analysts said a shock to the global economy was unlikely because oil supplies remain fairly robust.

The main uncertainty is how long will it take for the Saudis to repair the facility, which separates gas from oil from several important oil fields. While the fire was put out quickly, the Saudis may not know the answer for days since the facility is large and has complex equipment that still needs to be tested.

Stocks on Wall Street dropped by about half a percent in early trading Monday. European stocks also lost ground, with the DAX index in Germany down 0.7 percent, while Asian stocks ended the day mixed.

Among shares in the United States, General Motors was down more thant 4 percent, after the United Automobile Workers union went on strike, sending nearly 50,000 members at G.M. factories across the Midwest and South to picket lines on Monday morning.

[Read more about the strike here.]

On Monday, the Chinese government released data that cast further doubt over the health of its economy. The report showed disappointing growth in August in retail sales, industrial production and capital spending.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished the day 0.8 percent lower after the release of Chinese economic data and another weekend of violent antigovernment demonstrations.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index closed unchanged. South Korea’s Kospi index finished 0.4 percent higher. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index was 0.6 percent lower, and the CAC 40 index in France lost 0.9 percent.