Brent, the global benchmark for crude, was down 64 cents, or nearly 1 percent, at $68.27 per barrel by 9:50 a.m. ET (14:50 GMT). It had risen a cumulative 4.5 percent in three prior sessions, hitting $70.75 on Monday, its highest since mid-September. Brent’s run-up was largely driven by the US killing of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani on Friday that set the two countries on a collision course, putting the Middle East and the world on the edge.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US crude benchmark, slid 40 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $62.87. WTI had risen more than 3 percent net over the past three sessions, reaching a more than the eight-month high of $64.72 on Monday.
“The ‘pain trade’ is not up for oil prices in the near term,” Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at the ICAP commodities brokerage in Durham, North Carolina, wrote in a market commentary. “While the outcome of the market could be explosive under the right scenario Iran retaliation, there is clearly more selling in the market than buying.”
Tehran and Washington, meanwhile, exchanged strike threats. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “harsh revenge” for Soleimani’s death while Trump said he has identified 52 targets in Iran, including sites of cultural prominence, in a plan for a counter-attack that may be “disproportionate."