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Saudi-U.S. Tensions Escalate: ETF Winners & Losers

Sanghamitra Saha
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Of late, Saudi and United States are at loggerheadsover the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. On Saturday, President Donald Trump forewarned a likely "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has been stressed since journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom and a U.S. resident, went missing on Oct 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, per CNBC.

U.S. President Donald Trump admonished Saudi and warned of harsh consequences if it is found that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. Britain, France and Germany summoned the Saudi and Turkish authorities on Sunday to prepare a "credible investigation" into the disappearance case. Saudi Arabia also reportedly announced to retaliate to any action taken against it over the Khashoggi case.

Investors should note that oil patch is likely to see a supply crunch due to the U.S. sanctions on Iran. The sanctions currently are on cars, and metals and minerals as well as U.S. and European aircraft. The second part of the sanctions that prohibits import of Iranian energy will have effect starting Nov 5. Due to the Iran sanctions, about 1.4 million barrels-a-day of supply will be out of the market (read: Oil ETFs: What You Need to Know).

Venezuela, which has one of the world's largest proven oil reserves, has also been seeing a decline in crude production in recent years. Venezuela’s oil production has halved since the early 2000s (read: 3 Country ETFs That Are Beneficiary of Higher Oil Prices).

Now if the Saudis do not pump up more oil when Iran sanctions will be underway, the global market will be really out of supply. An undersupplied market will result in higher oil prices , per Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.


Saudi Arabian equities took a dive on concern the nation’s relationship with the U.S. may turn bitter. The Tadawul All Share Index plunged as much as 7%, the maximum since 2016 on a closing basis, per Bloomberg.

The recent rout triggered confusions that if the kingdom at all will be able to attract foreign investors needed to reform its economy. The nation has already gained a place in FTSE Russell and MSCI Inc. indexes for emerging markets, according to Bloomberg. iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia ETF KSA lost about 3.5% in the past two days (as of Oct 15).


Such geopolitical concerns gave a boost to oil prices.United States Oil (USO) added about 1.20% in the past two days (as of Oct 15) and United States Brent Oil (BNO were up 0.8% in the past two days (as of Oct 15).

Though a few market watchers are talking about Iran-like sanctions against Saudi, chances look feeble as “Saudi is one of the world’s top oil producers.” So, things are little complicated here, per analysts.

Also, an article published on CNBC noted that Friday's monthly report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicated that the market appeared "adequately supplied for now" and reduced its forecasts for global oil demand growth this year and next. With falling demand, oil price rise is less likely over the long term.

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