What to Watch

Trump Unswayed by Europe Over Iran Nuclear Deal

 President Donald Trump appeared to be unpersuaded by French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to keep the U.S. in the Iran nuclear deal, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Felicia Schwartz, and that had positive knock-on effects for the oil market.

Mr. Macron had visited Washington earlier this week to persuade Mr. Trump not to withdraw from the landmark 2015 agreement to rein in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with Mr. Trump Friday at the White House, where she is expected to make a similar case to the president.

But growing market expectations Mr. Trump will withdraw from the deal have supported crude oil prices this week. If the U.S. were to abandon the agreement, it would result in a reimpositon of economic sanctions on Iran—one of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ largest members—damaging its oil output and lessening global supply.

“The fact is that the Iranian nuclear deal is dead in the water and a Trump torpedo is fast approaching. The market is positioning itself accordingly and the prospect for the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions on Iran should underpin upside potential in the near-term,” argued Stephen Brennock, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 0.23% to $73.71 a barrel  on London’s Intercontinental Exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading down 0.25% at $68.01 a barrel.

Energy News

Higher Oil Prices Weigh on Corporations

 Rising oil prices are increasing energy costs for many companies, including large operations like American Airlines Group Inc., report The Wall Street Journal’s Doug Cameron and Bradley Olson.

BP Appoints New Chairman

 British oil giant BP PLC on Thursday said Helge Lund had been appointed as the company’s new chairman, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Carlo Martuscelli.

“The oil price should not fall in any significant way until the question of renewed Iran sanctions has been resolved.”

Analysts at Commerzbank

 Investors Skeptical Over Return of Big Oil

 Climbing crude prices have helped bolster earnings at the world’s biggest oil-and-gas firms, but investors in those companies remain wary of the new price environment and the comeback of so-called Big Oil, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Kent.

Big Number

69%

Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Thursday reported a 69% jump in profit for the first quarter, year-on-year, to $5.7 billion.

FutureCurve

Today: Baker Hughes releases weekly data on the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S.

Tuesday: The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, releases weekly data on U.S. petroleum inventories.

Wednesday: The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports on weekly oil stocks.

Reporter’s Notebook

Dow Jones reporter Marc Bisbalarias on French oil giant Total SA’s quarterly earnings. The fall in Total’s cash flow from operations–to $2.1 billion in the first quarter from $8.6 billion the previous quarter–shouldn’t worry investors, said analysts at Raymond James, as cash-flow generation for integrated oil companies “is often bumpy” quarter-on-quarter. According to the brokerage, the fall shouldn’t call into question the positive operating cash-flow trends anticipated by consensus for Total, and it noted that results were in line with expectations. Shares were recently down 0.3%.