Iraq unrest drives up oil, shares edge higher and US$ strengthens

London (June 13)  Escalating violence in Iraq drove crude oil prices to nine-month highs on Friday while damping the appetite for risk, even as bullish news from the U.S. tech sector lifted shares on Wall Street and helped buoy stocks in global equity markets.

Brent crude edged above $113 a barrel, up more than $4 this week, on concerns that an insurgency in Iraq could trigger civil war and eventually crimp oil exports.

Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric urged his followers to take up arms to defend themselves against advancing Sunni militants, escalating a conflict that threatens civil war and a possible break-up of the country.

"The market in general is trying to assess the risks on Iraq," said Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix consultancy.

The dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies for the first time in three sessions as the Iraqi violence triggered a safety bid for the U.S. currency. Higher U.S. bond yields also underpinned the move.