Dow Set to Tumble After U.S. Airstrike Kills Iranian General

Iranians demonstrate following the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard top commander Qasem Soleimani Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

7:11 a.m. U.S. stocks were set to open with heavy losses Friday after the U.S. launched an airstrike on a top Iranian general, sending the price of oil higher on worries over increased tensions.

U.S. stock futures took a battering, with futures pointing to losses of over 300 points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while European stocks also fell, though less dramatically. S&P 500 futures were down 1.3%.

In Europe, airline stocks including Air France-KLM were bruised while oil producers such as BP rose. In U.S. premarket trade, the same reaction was seen, with early gains for drilling contractor Transocean and losses for American Airlines.

Crude-oil futures surged, with the WTI contract trading around $64 a barrel, and gold rallied with the yellow metal surging some $23 an ounce. Bonds also drew a bid, as yields on the 10-year Treasury fell 6 basis points. Yields move in the opposite direction of prices.

Henry Rome, an analyst at Eurasia Group, expects Iran to retaliate for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani but stopped short of predicting a full-blown war.

“We expect moderate to low level clashes to last for at least a month and likely be confined to Iraq. Iranian-backed militias will attack U.S. bases and some U.S. soldiers will be killed; the U.S. will retaliate with strikes inside of Iraq,” he wrote in a note to clients.

Rome says oil prices could “make a run at $80” if the conflict spreads to the oil fields of southern Iraq or if Iranian harassment of shipping intensifies.

There’s also a key report on the U.S. economy in the form of the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index, which is due at 10 a.m. Eastern, and Fed minutes, which come at 2 p.m. There’s also a number of Federal Reserve officials speaking at a San Diego economics conference.

But with the assassination—and the odds of a full-blown war in the Middle East rising—don’t be surprised if the market simply ignores them.

Write to Steve Goldstein at

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