Call of the day: Don’t rule out $400 oil if the U.S. sanctions Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)
Saudi Arabia's  powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman  (MB
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS)

So now Ford Motor F, +1.97%  Chairman Bill Ford and JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.57%  boss Jaime Dimon have both opted to drop out of that Saudi conference following the country’s suspected role in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The high-profile pair is following the lead of several others, including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Viacom VIA, +1.89%  CEO Bob Bakish and AOL co-founder Steve Case, as well as media organizations like CNN, the New York Times NYT, +2.04%  and the Financial Times.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, however, is said to still be planning to attend. That flow of Saudi cash is apparently pretty hard to resist.

Nevertheless, mounting threats from around the world to punish Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of U.S. sanctions, are rattling the oil-soaked nation and drawing sharp words in response.

“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusation,” a government source reportedly told the official Saudi Press Agency. “The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action.”

Hence, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel’s general manager Turki Aldakhil, in our call of the day, warned we could see an explosive move in oil prices.

“If U.S. sanctions are imposed on Saudi Arabia, we will be facing an economic disaster that would rock the entire world,” he wrote in an op-ed. “If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure.”

This mess could ultimately throw the entire Muslim world “into the arms of Iran, which will become closer to Riyadh than Washington,” Aldakhil said. “The truth is that if Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh.”

The deteriorating international relations have triggered a selling spree in the Saudi stock market, as you can see from the chart of the day below.

The U.S. market enjoyed a rebound on Friday after a beatdown earlier in the week, but it looks like sellers have the upper hand again.

The market

Stocks started the day off with some modest losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.35%  , S&P 500 SPX, -0.59%  and Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.88%  all in the red . Oil CLZ8, +0.06%  gave up its early gains to lean lower. With the market feeling jittery, gold GCZ8, -0.05%  rallied.

Overseas, Asia markets ADOW, +0.31%  continued bleeding, with the Nikkei NIK, +0.28%  closing firmly in the red. Europe markets SXXP, +0.10% are also starting the week lower.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies mostly rebounded overnight. Bitcoin BTCUSD, +0.52%  is up at $6,525, while Ripple XRPUSD, +1.83%  and Ethereum ETHUSD, +0.76%  are up more than 2% each.

The chart

It’s been a rough stretch for investors in Saudi’s stock market. At one point Sunday, the main index in Riyadh dropped as much as 7% with billions of dollars in market cap wiped away from leading companies in the region. The index recovered but was still down 3.5% by close as you can see:

The buzz

Sears SHLD, -23.83%  filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy in the wee hours, in a deal that will keep hundreds of the 125-year retailer’s stores open.

Earnings season gets underway this week with Bank of America BAC, -1.90%BAC, -1.90% , which is up after the bank beat on earnings and revenue. Charles Schwab SCHW, -2.80%  is also coming up, with Morgan Stanley MS, +0.09%  , Goldman Sachs GS, +0.63%   and Netflix NFLX, -1.89%  for Tuesday. It’s plenty busy for the rest of the week.

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The search continues through the rubble of Mexico Beach, with crews looking for the dozens of people still unaccounted for after one of the worst storms to ever hit the U.S. As of midday Sunday, an estimated 79 people were unaccounted forin the coastal town, said Capt. Iggy Carroll,

There’s a lot to unpack in that Trump interview last night. For starters, he predicted climate change would fix itself, said he knows more about NATO than Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (more on that in “the quote” below), and claimed the EU was formed to take advantage of the U.S.

The quote

“I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington” — President Trump said of Defense Secretary James Mattis on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

The stat

33% — That’s the percent of people polled in a CNN survey who said Joe Biden is their preferred presidential nominee among 16 possible Democrats. Bernie Sanders was runner-up with just 13%, followed by Kamala Harris at 9%.

The economy

The numbers to watch most this week likely come from the housing sectors, where we’ll get September housing starts and existing home sales. But those don’t hit for a few days. As for Monday, retail sales data came in soft for a second straight month, while the New York Fed Empire State manufacturing survey pointed to strong factory activity in October.

Maket Watch