President Donald J. Trump’s threats to meet North Korea’s hostile acts or comments with “fire, fury and, frankly, power” shook global markets but crude opened higher — only to sell off on what were perceived to be bullish stats.
Andrew Fletcher, senior vice president commodity derivatives at KeyBank National Association said the president’s comments add an “undertone” to the market but that if oil traders were “really worried about confrontation we would be much higher than this.”
“I think the market right now is concentrating on [oil] fundamentals, which are bullish,” Fletcher told Hart Energy via email.
Crude oil and natural gas were slightly higher prior to the official market open. Crude was bolstered overnight by bullish API stocks and the ratcheting up of geopolitical risk with choice rhetoric between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, KeyBank said.
Baird Energy Research said in an Aug. 9 note that “a wave of worry concerning tensions between the U.S. and North Korea has enveloped risk overnight.”
In a morning note, Baird said that S&P 500 futures dropped 0.3% while the EuroStoxx and Nikkei also fell.
MarketWatch reported that just after 3 p.m. ET on Aug. 9 the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.26%; the S&P 500 index lost 0.16% and the Nasdaq Composite Index 0.42%.
“President Donald Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ warning has markets on edge today South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.1% to the lowest since June 21,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures for Mizuho Securities USA LLC.
During a meeting Aug. 8 in New Jersey, where Trump is on a working vacation, the president said North Korea “best not make any more threats towards the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
He then repeated a similar statement before saying “thank you.”
On Aug. 9, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Trump’s remarks were a response to North Korea’s “rhetoric has just ratcheted up louder and louder and more threatening. So I think the President —what the President is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-Un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”
In response to a question about possible military options regarding North Korea that have advanced in the past 24 hours Tillerson said nothing had drastically changed. Tillerson also said a new diplomatic effort wasn’t needed, particularly since new sanctions have been put in place.
“I think, in fact, the pressure is starting to show,” he said. “I think that’s why the rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang is beginning to become louder and more threatening. Whether we’ve got them backed into a corner or not is difficult to say, but diplomatically, you never like to have someone in a corner without a way for them to get out.”
Tillerson added that Trump was reaffirming the capability of the U.S. to fully defend itself and its allies.
“The American people should sleep well at night,” he said.
Darren Barbee can be reached at email@example.com.