Oil price futures spike in wake of U.S. killing of Iranian general

Oil price futures surged Friday as the international markets reacted to the U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Prices for benchmark Brent crude oil surged in futures trading Friday following the killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad. File photo by John Angelillo

The global benchmark Brent crude was up 4.3 percent to $69.08 per barrel in futures trading hours after news broke of Soleimani’s death from a U.S.-launched missile strike near Baghdad International Airport.

Meanwhile, U.S. oil futures also jumped 4.1 percent to $63.69 per barrel. Those prices represented the biggest gains in nearly a month and were the highest since September, when a series of coordinated drone attacks targeted key Saudi Arabian energy production facilities.

The Pentagon announced the death of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Quds Force, in a statement released late Thursday in Washington, while Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei quickly vowed his country would retaliate for the U.S. action.

The quickly escalating situation has greatly increased tensions in the Middle East which are being reflected in the oil future prices, analysts said.

“This brings us to the precipice of a full-blown shooting war with Iran — not a shadow war or a proxy war,” Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Markets, told CNBC. “It is almost impossible to overstate the implications of this event.”

Traders said they were fearful of retaliatory attacks from Tehran on Middle Eastern energy infrastructure.

ByDon Jacobson