WTI crude subdued in the mid-$45.00s despite assassination of lead Iranian nuclear scientist

  • WTI crude oil currently trades just below highs of the day in the $43.30s and remains within recent intra-day ranges.
  • Crude oil markets were unresponsive to recent confirmation from Iranian officials that Iran's most senior nuclear scientist had been assassinated.

WTI crude oil currently trades just of highs of the day in the $45.30s, up roughly 20 cents or 0.5% on the day. However, the American benchmark for sweet light crude oil largely still resides right in the middle of recent intra-day ranges.

Crude oil complex largely killing of lead Iranian nuclear scientist

Barely a few hours ago, Iranian officials confirmed that Iran's most senior nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, had been assassinated near the capital city of Tehran. Fakhrizadeh has long been suspected as being behind a secret Iranian nuclear programme, with one Western diplomat saying to Reuters back in 2014 that if Iran were to create a nuclear bomb, Fakhrizadeh would be its “father”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif immediately condemned the attack claimed that there are serious indications of an Israeli role in the attack. Meanwhile, an army general vowed to take revenge on State TV.

Market commentators quickly pointed out that the attack, regardless of who orchestrated it, is likely to rise the chances of an Iranian counterstrike, which could put crude oil supply in the region at risk in the near-term. But oil markets, seemingly completely asleep to the news, did not budge at all.

Amid thin trade as an early 18:45GMT energy market close approaches, given US Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps the lack of volatility in crude oil markets is unsurprising. Moreover, crude traders have other things on their minds;

The OPEC+ cartel of major oil producers will be meeting over the weekend and into Monday, from which a three-month extension of current production cuts through Q1 2021 is now the base case expectation. If the cartel fails to extend output cuts, this could trigger significant downside in WTI. Other market commentators point out the risk of that “buy the rumour, sell the fact” reaction could ensue even if the cartel does live up to expectations.

WTI content to range within between upper-$44.00s and lower-$46.00s

Crude oil markets seem for now to be carving themselves out a near term range, within which trade is likely to remain contained until the full return of US players to the market, likely by next Tuesday; the upper bound of this range appears to be the lower $46.00s, while the lower bound appears to be the upper-$44.00s.  

To the upside for WTI, there isn’t much by way of near-term support, given just how swiftly prices fell through the $40.00s back in March as the Covid-19 panic begun. The next upside level to watch with be early February lows just below the psychological $50 level. To the downside, the previous post-pandemic sell-off high at $43.78 is yet to be retested and is likely to offer strong support.

WTI daily chart


WTI hourly chart


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