An offshore oil platform in Bahrain. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Here's a question hanging over oil markets: Should traders be paying more attention to geopolitical risk? A few recent analyses on the topic, spurred by escalating conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Houthi rebels (and by extension Iran), caught my eye...

The warning: "With MBS soon heading home from his US tour, the gloves may be set to come off and we believe the market should brace for further escalation," RBC Capital Markets analyst Helima Croft wrote in a note yesterday, referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

  • The note says this week's Houthi attack on a Saudi oil tanker ramps up a proxy war that "could eventually prove to be the tripwire for a direct confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran."

Along those lines, Financial Times energy markets editor David Sheppard writes:

"Oil traders, distracted for now by a brewing trade war between the US and China, are at risk of growing complacent. But it is unlikely they will be able to discount Saudi Arabia’s conflict in Yemen much longer."

The latest: Oil prices are trending downward again Friday thanks to new fears of a U.S.-China trade war. Bloomberg has more here.

Russia and OPEC: Reuters has the latest on the prospect of a long-term, even multi-decade alliance, between Russia and OPEC once the current output-limiting deal ends.

  • Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said it could be an "indefinite" agreement. The whole thing is still pretty nebulous, but for what it's worth, he's also quoted in their story saying:
  • "In essence, this could be some international organization, which could gather once every half a year and discuss the situation on the oil market; both OPEC and non-OPEC countries."

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2019. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an “indefinite leave of absence” from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University after posting a photo of himself with unzipped pants and an arm around a woman on social media, according to the school.

The state of play: The picture, which has since been deleted, drew backlash and charges of hypocrisy from conservative political figures because the university's honor code strictly prohibits students from having "sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage," and recommends they dress with“appropriateness” and “modesty."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,189,737 — Total deaths: 716,669 — Total recoveries — 11,610,192Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,917,050 — Total deaths: 160,702 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (L) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speak to the media on Capitol Hill. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump should sign executive orders unilaterally addressing coronavirus stimulus spending after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again on Friday.

Why it matters: Friday was viewed as a self-imposed deadline to negotiate a new relief bill. But after an intense week of negotiations on Capitol Hill, White House and Democratic leadership failed to reach a deal on delivering much needed aid to Americans and businesses.