Oil jumps as Iran shoots down US drone in Gulf

The shooting down of a US drone has raised fears of a military confrontation between Tehran and Washington. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2019

Oil jumps as Iran shoots down US drone in Gulf

  • The drone was downed in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile
  • Also propelling oil higher was a decline in US crude inventories and the prospect of prolonged supply restraint by producer group OPEC and its allies

LONDON: Oil rose more than 3 percent toward $64 a barrel on Thursday after Iran shot down a US military drone, raising fears of a military confrontation between Tehran and Washington.
Expectations that the US Federal Reserve could cut interest rates at its next meeting, stimulating growth in the world’s largest oil-consuming country, and a drop in US crude inventories also supported prices.
US crude was up 5.8 percent at $59.91 per barrel, a three-week high. Brent crude was up 4.3 percent at $64.52 per barrel, also a three-week high, having earlier gained 3.4 percent to $63.93. US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.33 to $56.09.
“The risk of a military conflict in the Middle East has risen because of a ratcheting up of tensions between the United States and Iran,” said Abhishek Kumar of Interfax Energy in London. “Elsewhere, the US Federal Reserve has signaled its willingness to loosen monetary policy over the coming months, which is being perceived as favorable to oil demand.”
The drone was downed in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, a US official said. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the drone was flying over southern Iran. Tension has been rising in the Middle East, home to over a fifth of the world’s oil output, after attacks on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for oil supplies. Washington blamed Tehran for the tanker attacks. Iran denied any role.
Concern about slowing economic growth and a US-China trade dispute has pulled oil lower in recent weeks. Brent reached a 2019 high of $75 in April.
The prospect of further rate cuts could prove the more significant factor for oil, said Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob, should Iran-US tension not escalate.
“The Fed and the cutting of rates is something that will provide more substantial support,” he said.
Also propelling oil higher on Thursday was a decline in US crude inventories and the prospect of prolonged supply restraint by producer group OPEC and its allies.
US crude stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
OPEC and allies including Russia agreed this week to meet on July 1-2, ending a month of wrangling about the timing.
The coalition known as OPEC+ looks set to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production. The deal expires at the end of June.


Holiday Inn-owner IHG hit by weak China, Hong Kong bookings

Updated 4 min 55 sec ago

Holiday Inn-owner IHG hit by weak China, Hong Kong bookings

  • IHG’s revenue fall comes amid a general slowdown in the global hotel industry
  • Company opened 13,000 rooms in Q3

Holiday Inn-owner InterContinental Hotels Group blamed lower business bookings in China and Hong Kong protests for a 0.8% fall in third-quarter revenue per room on Friday, the latest company to be pinched by weaker global travel.
The hotel industry in general is feeling the impact of slowing global growth, which is denting business travel. Rival Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. warned that lagging growth in China and the China-US trade war would hurt revenue. Raffles owner AccorHotels narrowed its full-year profit guidance, citing uncertainty on China-related issues.
Four months of protests in Hong Kong have taken a toll on tourism, while weak economic data from China has been discouraging.
IHG reported a 6.1% fall in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in Greater China during the quarter, with a 36% drop in Hong Kong. (https://reut.rs/35Lf0Jl)
“While we are certainly not at the stage where business travel has been scaled back on a large scale, the cracks are certainly showing,” AJ Bell’s Investment Director Russ Mould said.
Shares in IHG, which has nearly 5,800 hotels including the Crowne Plaza and Regent Hotels & Resorts brands, fell nearly 2% in early trade on Friday.
The company has been putting more money into China, its fastest-growing market, using new loyalty programs, digital payment options and revamping rooms at Holiday Inn to woo local business travelers. Of the 13,000 rooms IHG opened across its brands in the quarter, 4,100 were in China.
But Chief Financial Officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said the company was seeing more leisure than business travelers, who tend to spend less money on bookings.
Edgecliffe-Johnson said the company had also seen some pressure in the United States as US manufacturing businesses cut spending on conference halls bookings during the third quarter.