WTI futures spiked nearly 5% overnight in the wake of a US drone strike on Baghdad Airport which killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. It is a dangerous escalation in the US conflict with Iran which broadened when Trump alarmed US allies by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal last May.
We argued at the time, as did many, that Trump’s actions put the US on the path to a potential shooting war. The assassination of Soleimani clearly amplifies the risks. So far, oil prices have pushed only slightly above the levels reached after the nuclear deal pullout and the Saudi Aramco plant was attacked in September. But, this is obviously a more serious geopolitical development. From an economic standpoint, a sharp rise in the price of oil further complicates the already thorny inflation problem facing markets – setting up a showdown between Fed hawks and doves in January.
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