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Oil prices slip slightly lower; Iran in focus after helicopter crash

Published 05/19/2024, 10:40 PM
Updated 05/20/2024, 08:30 AM
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Oil prices slipped lower Monday, handing back early gains after the confirmation of the death of Iran’s President in a helicopter crash. 

At 08:30 ET (12:30 GMT), Brent oil futures fell 0.5% to $83.53 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 0.6% to $79.10 a barrel.

Iran stability in focus after helicopter crash 

Crude prices rose early Monday following reports that a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed in mountainous terrain due to bad weather conditions over the weekend. 

Raisi was seen as a contender to become Iran’s next supreme leader - the highest political position in the oil-producing nation. 

His death was later confirmed by state media, but tensions have eased with the Iranians not accusing any outside bodies of foul play.

Additionally, the county's oil policy should not be affected given current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds ultimate power with a final say on all state matters.

Fears that continued instability in the Middle East could disrupt oil supplies from the region have been a key point of support for oil prices, keeping Brent trading comfortably above $80 for most of 2024. 

Fears that continued instability in the Middle East could disrupt oil supplies from the region have been a key point of support for oil prices. 

Rate uncertainty, OPEC anticipation keeps caution in play 

That said, there remains a great deal of caution with the oil markets ahead of a slew of upcoming cues on U.S. interest rates and the economy this week.

The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s late-April meeting are due this week, as are speeches from a string of Fed officials.

Markets were also on edge before a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), which is scheduled for June 1. Any updates on the cartel’s plans to maintain ongoing production cuts will be squarely in focus.

"We might have to wait for further clarity from OPEC+ and its output policy for the second half of the year to provide any impetus to the market and for it to break out of its recent range," said analysts at ING, in a note.

(Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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