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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.

Go deeper

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.

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