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Oil prices surge after Iran fires missiles at US bases in Iraq

By Charlotte Ricca

Safe haven assets, like gold and the Japanese yen, have also risen

US President Donald Trump and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Oil prices surged as much as 4 per cent on Wednesday following an early-morning Iranian missile attack on air bases in Iraq housing US troops.

Brent Crude, the global benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate eased back from earlier gains, but both remain around 1 per cent higher.

In the middle of the Asian trading, Brent Crude is at 1.14 per cent at $69.08 per barrel, while the US benchmark is currently at $63.28.

The attack came in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, which had already pushed up oil prices,

The Pentagon said it was still "working on initial battle damage assessments" after "Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq". It was unclear if there were casualties but President Trump tweeted "all is well".

Safe haven assets, like gold and the Japanese yen have also risen following the attack, while global stock prices were sent lower amid fears of war.

Wall Street tumbled immediately after the attack, but reduced its losses to around 0.5 per cent. The FTSE 100 opened 36.73 points lower at 7,531.10, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index fell by 1.3 per cent and Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 0.8 per cent.

In separate news, a Ukrainian Boeing BA jetliner crashed outside Tehran early today, killing all 176 aboard. According to Iran state TV reports a fire struck one of the plane’s engines after takeoff at Imam Khomeini International Airport.

FURTHER READING: Gold surges to seven-year high following US-Iran standoff

FURTHER READING: US and Iran allies try to diffuse tensions after US airstrike

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