CRUDE OIL, IRAN, IRGC, QUDS FORCE – TALKING POINTS:
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Crude oil prices shot higher following news that Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force unit of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad. A top Iraqi paramilitary commander – Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes – likewise died in the attack. Some sources have also claimed that the deputy leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group was killed in tandem.
The Quds Force carries out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities and is responsible for foreign operations. It and/or its members have been variously designated as engaged in or acting in support of terrorism by the US, Canada, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Today’s strike follows three days of escalation featuring a US attack on an Iran-backed Iraqi militia and the storming of the US embassy in Baghdad.
The rise in oil prices probably reflects concerns that deepening regional instability will bring supply disruption. The benchmark WTI contract jumped to a seven-month high, testing resistance in the 63.38-96 area. A break above that confirmed on a daily closing basis opens the door for a test of the April 2019 high at 66.60. The $60/bbl figure marks initial support, followed by a rising trend line just above $56/bbl.
WTI crude oil price chart created with TradingView
Risk appetite floundered across financial markets as news of the attack crossed the wires. Futures tracking the S&P 500 stock index – a bellwether for broader sentiment trends – dropped alongside the pro-risk Australian and New Zealand Dollars. The typically anti-risk Japanese Yen and US Dollar dutifully rose. Gold prices also strengthened as the defensive mood drove down bond yields, helping non-interest-bearing alternatives.
Chart created with TradingView
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— Written by Ilya Spivak, Currency Strategist for DailyFX.com
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