Sep 10, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Oil prices fall after John Bolton resigns

John Bolton

John Bolton. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's removal of national security adviser John Bolton sent oil prices downward Tuesday after gains earlier in the day.

Why it matters: Removal of the hawkish Bolton raises the prospect of easing U.S.-Iran relations.

Where it stands: Brent crude futures were trading at $63.60 per barrel when the news hit and then tumbled by over $1, clawed back somewhat and then fell again, per Bloomberg data. Brent is currently trading in the mid-$62 range.

  • West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, also dropped quickly by over $1 and is now in the mid-$57 range.

What they're saying: "This is a knee-jerk reaction given that Bolton has been so adversarial with Iran," Matt Smith of the firm ClipperData tells CNN.

But, but, but: It's unclear to what extent Bolton's exit may lead to any changes in the U.S. posture.

  • In a note Tuesday, ClearView Energy Partners points out that the Bolton era included U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, public criticism of Russia and sanctions against Venezuela.
  • However, "we would caution against the a priori conclusion that a post-Bolton administration might materially pivot from those positions," the company writes, because it's unclear who will replace him and other hawkish Trump officials remain in place.

The intrigue: Separately, oil demand growth estimates in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest outlook released today are also bearish for prices.

  • "EIA expects the rate of consumption growth for global liquid fuels to fall below 1 million barrels per day in 2019 for the first time since 2011," the EIA reports.
  • EIA sees consumption growing by 900,000 barrels per day, which is 100,000 less than its prior outlook.
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