Crude Climbs, Stock Futures Fall After Airstrike Kills Iranian General

Pentagon statement says U.S. military took ‘decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad.’

Crude oil and safe-haven gold futures spiked overnight, while U.S. stock futures and stock markets in Asia fell early Friday after the Pentagon said a U.S. military strike killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, at the Baghdad airport.

The Associated Press reported Iranian state television and three Iraqi officials said that an airstrike killed Soleimani, described as an architect of Iran’s regional security apparatus, at Baghdad’s international airport early Friday.

The attack is “expected to draw severe Iranian retaliation against Israel and American interests,” the AP reported.

The U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement about Thursday night's attack in Iraq: "At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Following news of the military strike, crude-oil futures rose more than 2.78%, and gold futures added 1%. U.S. stock futures declined, with Dow futures falling 0.68% to 28,646, S&P futures down 0.74% to 3,235, and Nasdaq futures off 0.78% to 8,822.75.

Across Asia, benchmarks were lower by midday Friday. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.76% to 23,656.62; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.17% to 28,495.11. Stock markets in Shanghai and Singapore also fell.

On Wall Street Thursday, stocks closed at record highs on the first trading day of 2020, as investors kicked off the new year in a buoyant mood driven by the prospect of a formal trade agreement between Washington and Beijing and moves by China to boost its economy. All three major indexes traded at all-time intraday highs during Thursday's session.