Jul 11, 2018

The evolution (or not) of Iran sanctions

Kharg Island Oil Terminal, home to 95% of Iran's crude oil exports. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Oil prices are heading downward this morning, as traders respond to the escalating trade war with China, reopened Libyan exports terminals, and fresh signs that the U.S. could provide buyers of Iran crude oil some wiggle room on sanctions, per Reuters.

The intrigue: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to make news yesterday when he said in Abu Dhabi that the U.S. would "consider" waiver requests from a "handful" of countries. But that was in the context of generally tough remarks.

Yes, but: Markets moved, even though it's still unclear whether he went beyond State Department official Brian Hook's July 2 comments, which stated that while the U.S. is not looking to grant waivers, it would work with countries that are reducing imports on a "case by case" basis.

  • I touched base with three analysts — one interpreted Pompeo's remarks as a "marginal softening," while two others saw no change from Hook's comments.
  • To muddy the waters, Hook and Pompeo both seemed more open to some waivers than what an unnamed State official said on background on June 26, so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Quoted: Hedgeye Risk Management's Joe McMonigle doesn't see wiggle room, noting State officials have spent weeks telling foreign leaders they expect full compliance.

"The President is focused on cutting off Iran's oil revenues and that is the U.S policy. I doubt there are any countries with whom the U.S. has met that still believe they will be provided an exception to the policy."
— McMonigle via email

Meanwhile: "U.S. government teams spent three days in Saudi Arabia discussing ways to cut off money flows to Iran without disrupting energy markets as Washington presses nations to stop buying Iranian oil by Nov. 4," Bloomberg reports.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health