What Trump's Tough Talk On Iran Means For Your Oil Investments

Markets Benzinga

President Donald Trump has spent his first days in office making good on campaign promises to undue many of policies implemented under former President Barack Obama. Among the policies Trump is aiming to abolish is Obamas historic agreement between the P5+1 nations and Iran to eliminate sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing to restraints on its nuclear program.

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Throughout the campaign season, Trump repeatedly criticized the Iran deal, a position he echoed on Twitter on Thursday in response to Iran testing ballistic missiles.

Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them! Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion, Trump tweeted.

The $150 billion is referring to a high-end estimate of Iranian assets that had been frozen under the international sanctions prior to the nuclear deal. As part of the deal, Iran was returned access to these assets and access to the critical global oil market.

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Since the deal was reached, Iran has ramped up its oil output from around 3,200 BBL/D/1K to around 4,000 BBL/D/1K. In the six months following the approval of the Iran deal, WTI crude oil prices fell 18.4 percent.

On the surface, the idea of reinstating U.S. sanctions on Iran certainly seems like it would be good for U.S. oil prices. However, the outcome would ultimately depend on whether other nations that worked hard on the deal would join with Trump.

A recent Columbia University study found that other oil purchasing countries, such as China, could undermine Trumps plan.

Trump has been extremely standoffish with China, which could opt to continue to buy Iranian oil regardless of U.S. sanctions.

So far, Trumps threats have generated a minimal response in the oil market. Shares of the United States Oil Fund LP (ETF) (USO) are up only 0.2 percent on the session, while shares of the Energy Select Sector SPDR (ETF) (XLE) are up 0.4 percent.

Image Credit: By James Mattis - 170127-D-GY869-031, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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