Oil prices jump after Iran military leader killed in US strike

Oil prices jump after Iran military leader killed in US strike

Futures for Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped 2.9% to $68.16 per barrel during Asian trading hours on Friday. US oil futures gained 2.8%, reaching $62.86 per barrel. That puts both on pace right now for their biggest daily gains in about a month, according to Refinitiv data.

The Pentagon confirmed in a statement that the US military killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit, in the attack at Baghdad International Airport. It said the strike was aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans.”

Analysts warned that the incident could escalate tensions in the region and affect global oil output.

“An indirect response is the most apparent course of action, and oil installations and tankers were my first thoughts,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, in a research note. But he added that it’s hard to tell whether Friday’s surge will be sustained.

Oil prices spiked more than 14% last September in the wake of a devastating attack on the heart of Saudi Arabian oil production, disrupting 5% of the daily global oil supply.
But prices pulled back quickly in the following days after Saudi officials said the kingdom would rely on reserves to keep exports stable.

Elsewhere on Friday, major Asian stock indexes all reversed earlier gains and traded lower following the news.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) briefly advanced 1.1%, but was last down 0.2%. The index jumped 1.3% on Thursday.
China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) lost 0.3% after hitting an eight-month high on Thursday.
South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) was slightly higher, though nearly flat in midday trading.

Japanese markets were still closed for the New Year’s holidays and will resume trading on Monday.

HSBC (HSBC) dropped 0.7% in Hong Kong. The bank become the latest victim in the political fallout of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. Protesters attacked some branches of HSBC earlier this week.

HSBC said Thursday in a statement that it was working to restore ATM services and other banking services that had been suspended as a result of the attacks.

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