Here’s what we know so far, via Marketwatch:
Geopolitical tensions jolted the oil price on Thursday. Media reports said a tanker in the Gulf of Oman had sent a distress signal after being attacked and was on fire, while Bloomberg reported a second tanker had also been attacked after both had sailed from Saudi Arabia.
United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, an arm of the Royal Navy, said it was investigating the incident after Iranian media also reported explosions in the area, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. Navy was aware of the incident, Bloomberg reported.
Today’s suspected attacks come a month after four ships were attacked outside the Strait of Hormuz (between UAE and Iran).
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed two weeks ago that Iran was almost certainly responsible for the attacks, without presenting evidence to back up the claim.
Iran, though, blamed “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.
The incidents come amid rising geopolitical tensions in the region. President Trump has pulled out of the multinational nuclear pact with Iran and reimposed fresh sanctions on its economy, including a ban on oil sales.
Fortunately, there are reports that the crews of the two tankers are safe.
MAP: Two tankers hit in the Gulf
Iranian media are reporting that TWO tankers have been hit in the Gulf of Oman.
The Financial Times has more details:
Iran’s Arabic TV al-Alalam reported that Pakistan’s local authorities also confirmed that the sound of explosions were heard.
Shipping executives have been circulating messages on Thursday morning saying that oil tanker M.T Front Altair had been abandoned, with its crew safely rescued by a nearby vessel, and that it was fully loaded and on fire.
The fire on Front Altair was caused by a “surface attack”, one of the messages said. The messages also said that a second tanker in the vicinity, Kokuka Courageous, could not be contacted, with its automatic identification system having gone offline.
I’ve dug into our Reuters terminal — and found the two tankers.
As you can see, Front Altair took a sudden diversion to the south this morning, presumably when the incident took place.
News that a tanker has caught fire in the Gulf of Oman is fuelling fears of geopolitical unrest in the region.
Neil Wilson of Market.com explains:
Oil has shot up sharply after slumping to 5-month lows overnight. Reports of an oil tanker being on fire in the Sea of Oman rattled markets and sent Brent up $2 in a matter of minute, but await to see whether this will hold or is an algo-based kneejerk that will be faded.
We know that geopolitical tensions in the region are worsening and raise supply-side concerns in terms of short-term outages etc – but with OPEC already curbing output and US production at a record high the market is far less susceptible to a shock.
Oil jumps after Gulf of Oman incident
Newsflash: The oil price has just surged on reports that a tanker in the Gulf of Oman is on fire.
Details of the incident are sketchy, beyond that it happened near the Iranian coast.
But markets are reacting fast. Brent crude has surged over 3% to $62 per barrel, having hit a five-month low below $60 last night.
What chartered surveyors say about Brexit
This month’s survey of Britain’s chartered surveyors is peppered with references to Brexit – here’s a round-up of comments:
Paul McSkimmings of Edward Watson Associates in Newcastle upon Tyne,
Good month with expected levels of instructions despite continuing uncertainty due to Brexit. I am still expecting a significant drop in work if Brexit eventually staggers over the line
Jonathan Milner of Paisley Properties in Huddersfield
Usual Easter bump continues. Demand remains strong, no Brexit jitters on the whole. Level second hand stock coming to market, whilst new build is increasingly popular.
Ben Hudson of Hudson Moody in York:
A realisation that Brexit will rumble on for ever has meant buyers and sellers are starting to make decisions to move.
James Brown of Norman F Brown in Richmond:
The shortage of new property on the market continues however following the Brexit postponement, buyers seem to have reacted positively and some properties are selling quickly at good prices.
Andrew W York of Moore & York in Leicester:
Upturn in sales during the second half of the month, but will this continue with all the political/ Brexit uncertainty?
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, says today’s survey shows the UK housing market is recovering.
But even though RICS sees prices recovering, Brexit is still a concern, he says:
“Some comfort can be drawn from the results of the latest RICS survey as it suggests that the housing market in aggregate may be steading. However much of the anecdotal insight provided by respondents is still quite cautious, reflecting concerns about both the underlying political and economic climate.
Rubinsohn also warns that some house-prices sellers are demanding too much for their homes, helping to bung the market up:
“Another significant point made by respondents is that there continues to be considerable emphasis on the need for realistic pricing on the part of vendors, which while not a new story, is indicative of the ongoing challenges.
Introduction: Housing market picking up after Brexit delay
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
The Brexit storm clouds that have loomed over Britain’s economy for many months appears to be clearing.
A new survey of chartered surveyors shows that the housing sector recovered its nerve in May. Prices picked up on relief that the UK hadn’t crashed out of the EU without a deal this spring.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) house price measure – the difference between members reporting price rises and falls – improved to -10 from -22 in April.
That was its highest reading since October and was stronger than the City expected. It suggests that the steady downward pressure on house prices may be easing.
London’s housing market has taken the biggest hit from Brexit since 2016, but there are also sign that the long slump in the capital’s housing market may have bottomed out.
- New buyer enquiries steadier in May following recent declines
- South East now showing most negative sentiment on prices as London starts to bounce back
- Indicators on sales, prices and new instructions remain slightly negative, but less than previously
- Expectations point to a gradual improvement in activity over the next twelve months
Reaction to follow…
Also coming up today
We’ll be tracking events at Arcadia, after Philip Green finally persuaded his landlords to agree hefty rent cuts to keep the company running.
On the economic side, we get new eurozone factory output data and the latest US weekly jobless total.
In the City, supermarket chain Tesco is reporting its financial results – UK sales rose 0.4% in the last quarter, down from 1.7% growth, in a “subdued market”, it says.
- 8.30am BST: Swiss central bank interest rate decision
- 10am BST: Eurozone industrial production for April
- 1.30pm BST: US weekly unemployment figures