Bloomberg: More than 70 percent of investors said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would create only a short-term disruption in oil markets, according to a quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll.
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
More than 70 percent of investors said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would create only a short-term disruption in oil markets, according to a quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll.
Only about a third of the 1,209 global investors, traders and analysts surveyed Jan. 23-24 said an attack could trigger an oil shock leading to a global recession.
While regional conflicts could affect oil markets over a longer period of time, investors may have “lurking confidence that other oil-producing nations would step up to increase production,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., the Des Moines, Iowa-based company that conducted the survey for Bloomberg.
A plurality of the respondents, 46 percent worldwide, said they were maintaining their current exposure to crude oil investments over the next six months, while 21 percent said they would increase that exposure, and 17 percent said they would reduce it. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
Forty-three percent expected crude oil prices to rise in the next half year, while 22 percent said they would fall.
Crude for March delivery today was at $99.86 a barrel, up 18 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $99.70 yesterday, the highest closing price since Jan. 19. Prices are up 17 percent in the past year.
Amid the increased tensions and a stepped-up campaign by the U.S. and the European Union to impose strict sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sales, its banking sector and its ability to engage in international trade, most investors surveyed said they were confident that a military conflict and a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz aren’t likely.
Only one in five respondents said it is very likely or fairly likely that Iran will make good on its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a transit route for one-fifth of globally- traded oil.
Fifty-four percent of those surveyed expressed confidence that there won’t be military action against Iran’s nuclear program in 2012, while 30 percent said there will be a strike.
Also, 54 percent of those surveyed said a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would provoke a regional conflict, and 42 percent said Iran would retaliate by attacking Israel.
As for the best response from the international community if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon, 45 percent worldwide said it was “such a lethal threat that military action against Iran” would be necessary, while 34 percent globally said it was a situation the world could live with. Twenty-one percent said they had no idea.
While more than half of U.S. investors — 57 percent –said military action would be necessary if Iran (OPCRIRAN) acquired a nuclear weapon, just 39 percent of those outside the U.S. said they feel that way. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed overseas said the world could live with a nuclear-armed Iran, a sentiment shared by only one in four in the U.S.
Fifty-nine percent of the U.S. customers surveyed said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely prompt attacks on U.S. civilian and military targets in the Middle East; a slim minority of investors outside the U.S., 46 percent, share that view.
Respondents also were divided about the effects of tougher sanctions on Iran. While 43 percent said the recent sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank diminish the chances that Iran will make concessions over its nuclear program, 36 percent said the sanctions may push Iran to the negotiating table.
On Nov. 21, the U.S., U.K. and Canada took coordinated action targeting Iran’s financial sector, with implications for any entities that do business with both Iran and Western nations. On Dec. 31, President Barack Obama signed into law congressional sanctions on Iran’s central bank aimed at complicating payments for Iranian oil by refiners in any country.
This week, the EU imposed an embargo on Iranian oil imports to the 27-nation bloc effective July 1; banned trade in gold, precious metals, diamonds and petrochemical products from Iran; and imposed an asset freeze on Iranian banks and port operators that will make tens of billions of euros in annual trade with Iran almost impossible.
The U.S., European allies and Israel accuse Iran of trying to acquire the ability to build nuclear weapons. Iran’s leaders say their program is solely for civilian energy and medical research.
In a Nov. 8 report, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency raised questions about possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.