Oil prices surged Friday after President Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iran’s powerful military commander, Qasem Soleimani. While the administration says it will “take whatever action is necessary” on Iran, Academy Securities head of macro strategy, Peter Tchir, says the U.S. economy will be relatively immune from escalation.
“I'm a strong believer that higher oil prices are now generally good for the U.S. economy,” Tchir told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker on Friday. “We've got enough people dependent on oil business here that I'm quite comfortable with that. If anything, the one thing I'm changing a little bit is my global outlook. I was expecting Europe and maybe Asia to outperform the U.S. this year. I think they're much more exposed to higher oil prices.”
The U.S. is a net exporter of energy, whereas China, Japan, and Europe have to import their energy, according to Tchir. And they’re getting the bulk of their energy from the part of the world that will be affected by the airstrike, he said.
Higher energy prices will “impact their economies ... faster than it impacts ours,” he noted. “I think it’s going to be more of a drag on their economy ... I think we’re just fine. Certain states are going to do very, very well with higher energy prices.”
Brent futures (BZ=F) spiked by over 3.5% on Friday, the highest pop since drones attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September.
“What I like to do is take some chips off the table — maybe for every $4 or $5 you're taking off the table, I want to put $1 or $2 into energy,” Tchir says. “So I actually think once we get through this, we are going to see global economic growth.”
Tchir also says investors should not be concerned about Iran taking retaliatory measures in the Strait of Hormuz.
“We don't think that's very likely,” Tchir explains. “It's an area that's pretty well defined. We believe if they cause a disruption, it can be cleared up very quickly. They are also well aware that that will just cause the U.S. to escalate further.”
But rising tension in the Middle East is not the only variable driving markets. Investors are eyeing January 15, when President Trump is expected to sign a U.S.-China trade deal as well.
“A decent amount is priced in, which is why unfortunately, part of my base case is that we will hear some negative news on trade at sometime in January,” Tchir says. “It tends to be how the president likes to negotiate, right? You stir the pot, you cause some confusion and you get everyone all upset that maybe it's not happening. So then whatever happens, you get a bigger victory later on.”