Oil prices shoot to 2019 highs on Iran sanctions move by US


A signpost points directions to buildings at BP’s International Centre for Business & Technology (ICBT) in Sunbury on Thames, UK (file). In London, BP shares shot up 2.7% yesterday.

World oil prices struck fresh 2019 highs yesterday after the US cracked down on Iranian oil exports while stock markets were buoyed by a raft of positive US corporate results. Oil prices shot up on Monday after the White House announced it would end six-month waivers that had exempted numerous countries from US sanctions for buying Iranian oil. They continued upwards yesterday, with Brent North Sea crude reaching $74.70 per barrel, the highest point since early November, before falling back slightly. WTI hit a similar near six-month high at $66.45. Across Europe, London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9% to close at 7,523.07 points; Frankfurt’s DAX 30 was up 0.1% at 12,235.51, while Paris’ CAC 40 gained 0.2% at 5,591.69.

On the first day of trading after the Easter break, the benchmark FTSE 100 was buoyed by the oil majors. “UK markets have returned from their long break with solid gains for the FTSE 100, led by strength in oil stocks thanks to the surge in crude prices over the past 24 hours,” noted Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG trading group. Meanwhile US giants including Twitter, Coca-Cola, United Technologies and Verizon revealed better-than-expected first quarterly earnings, sending Wall Street higher.However analyst Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com said traders could still be holding fire ahead of more results for American behemoths this week. “The blue chip results are nice to see, yet this market is probably waiting on a stronger directional cue from the response to earnings reports from Facebook and Amazon later in the week,” he said.

Other major US firms releasing earnings this week include Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Tesla, and Boeing — it will be the aerospace giant’s first such report since a deadly March 10 plane crash plunged the company into crisis.Optimism was further boosted after the US government reported new homes sales surged by 4.5% in March, defying expectations. European markets followed the Wall Street’s lead, closing higher yesterday after mixed trading in Asia. The White House’s announcement means that eight countries — China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — will face sanctions starting in May if they continue to buy oil from Iran. “This points to a big drop in the supply side, which boosts the commodity’s price,” said Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

“Iran’s daily oil output amounts to 1.3mn barrels, according to latest figures in end-March.” Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said rising crude prices meant $80 per barrel was now a “possibility”. “Oil quickly re-priced higher on fears that markets could face an immediate supply crunch, adding more pressure to the already tenuous global supply squeeze,” he added. Energy and oil-linked shares jumped on Tuesday, with Tokyo-listed crude developer Inpex rallying 2.8 % and oil refiner JXTG up 1.1%. In London, BP shot up 2.7% and Shell 2.3%.

Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times, AFP