Oil jumped by more than $2 to above the $113 per barrel on Friday as another bout of nerves spread in the market on concerns that spreading unrest in Libya could hit fuel supplies.

Brent oil had pulled back following a 7 percent surge to almost $120 on Thursday after rumors that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been shot and on Saudi Arabia's reassurances that it could counter Libyan supply disruptions.

But Saudi reassurances were not enough to calm jittery markets with analysts predicting that further rise in oil prices could trigger more selling in stocks and other risky assets.

When geopolitics in the Middle East are at play in the oil markets, all conventional bets on the direction of oil prices based on supply and demand fundamentals, or economic variables, are off, analysts at BNP Paribas said in a research note.

Stocks recovered smartly on Friday after heavy selling this week on hopes that a recent surge in prices may have been overdone, though traders said the situation was still too fluid to take any aggressive bets.

European shares rose, breaking a five-day falling spree.

Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> rose for the first time in four days while Hong Kong's stocks gained, helped by strong earnings from insurer AIA Group <1299.HK> and a rebound in airline shares.

The MSCI index of Asia-ex Japan stocks <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was up more than a percent, though down nearly 3 percent this week.

Foreign investors are buying back after the Nikkei lost some 400 points this week, but it's still early days and we need to wait to see what happens in Libya over the weekend to be able to say if the correction is already over or not, said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a market analyst at Monex Inc.

Broader sentiment remained cautious as still- elevated oil prices could hurt government budgets given widespread fuel price subsidies in the region apart from negative impacts on inflation, growth and trade balances.

Since the Libyan crisis erupted, some of the worst performing markets within Asia are India <.BSESN>, Korea <.KS11> and Taiwan <.TWII> due to their higher dependency on oil imports, Brown Brothers Harriman said.


Although oil prices have come off 2-1/2 year highs, they are up more than 12 percent in the past three sessions alone, raising concerns about a wider slowdown in growth and retaining a firm bias in the prices of safe haven assets such as gold, U.S. Treasuries and of late the Swiss franc.

The dollar stayed above a record low against the franc after suffering heavy losses overnight as investors sought safety in other currencies, fearing the unrest in Libya could spread to other oil producers.

It has fallen nearly 4.8 percent against the franc in the last two weeks, its worst showing since June.

Meanwhile, the euro held near three-week highs, helped by more hawkish comments from European Central Bank officials with ECB policymaker Axel Weber saying the only direction for interest rates to go is up.

Other ECB officials recently talked tough about fighting inflation, reinforcing market view that the ECB will raise interest rates before the U.S. Federal Reserve.

With markets continuing to focus on inflation-adjusted returns, BNP Paribas said, the Fed is seen as least credible central bank, the ECB as the most credible while the Bank of England lying somewhere in between.

In credit markets, the benchmark for non-Japan Asia, the iTraxx investment grade index saw its spreads tighten by 2 bps to 109.5/111.5 after blowing out to its widest level in nearly a month this week, traders said.

Gold, another safe-haven, consolidated around $1,400 an ounce as safe-haven buying dried up after the rally in oil fizzled.

U.S. Treasuries held overnight gains in Asia, with 10-year yields near a three-week low. (Additional reporting by Umesh Desai, Antoni Slodkowski in TOKYO and Ian Chua in SYDNEY)