Oil prices surged, while US stock futures faltered on Friday, after a US airstrike in Baghdad killed an Iranian military leader, recharging tensions in the oil-rich Middle East. 

The development had seemingly derailed a period of risk-on sentiment which had propelled the S&P 500 (+0.94%) higher the day prior. 

President Donald Trump ordered the strike that killed Qassam Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign wing, on Thursday. An Iraqi paramilitary commander, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, also died. 

"The US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani", the general was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region", the Pentagon said in a statement.

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the strike “an act of international terrorism’’, while the Middle Eastern country’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had since threatened “severe retaliation”.

Despite US-led sanctions, Iran had exported an average of 599,000 barrels of oil a day in 2019, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

Ahead, in today’s economic calendar, Friday includes; the ISM Manufacturing Index for December at 10am EST, followed by Crude Oil Inventories for the week ended Dec. 27 at 11am EST.

Middle East & Energy: Top Iranian Commander Killed in US Airstrike on Trump Orders. (Bloomberg)
A US airstrike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump killed one of Iran’s most powerful generals, sending global markets tumbling as Iran’s Supreme Leader threatened “severe retaliation.”

Today's Economical Announcements.

10:00AM - ★★★ - ISM Manufacturing PMI (Dec) (Previous: 48.1)
11:00AM - ★★★ - Crude Oil Inventories (Previous: -5.474M)

Pre-Market Movers & News Related Stocks.

Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR): [NEWS] Investor Steven Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management disclosed a 9.8% stake in the drugmaker.

Incyte (INCY): [NEWS] A phase-3 study of an experimental treatment failed to meet its goals. The therapy was designed to treat patients who have negative reactions to bone marrow transplants.

L Brands (LB): [REVIEW] Bank of America upgraded the Victoria’s Secret parent to “buy” from “neutral” based on inexpensive valuation, a high dividend yield and growth at Bath & Body Works.

Endo International (ENDP): [UPGRADE] Upgraded to “overweight” from “neutral” at Piper Jaffray, which feels the share price does not reflect a solid earnings stream for the foreseeable future.

McClatchy (MNI): [NEWS] Froze pension payments to some of its former executives as the newspaper publisher engaged a bankruptcy administration firm. McClatchy is seeking a government takeover of its pension plan, after saying in November that it would be unable to make a required $124 million payment to the plan due this year.

Illumina (ILMN): [NEWS] Has called off its deal to buy rival gene sequencing company Pacific Biosciences (PACB). The companies had announced the deal in November 2018, but ended it several weeks after US regulators filed a complaint to block the transaction.

Apple (AAPL): [REVIEW] Bank of America raised its price target on the stock to $330 per share from $290, pointing to continued strength in revenue growth. At the same time, RBC Capital raised its price target for Apple to $330 from $295, saying it sees higher customer interest and satisfaction with current iPhones as well as positive reception for AirPods.

Tesla (TSLA): [NEWS] Cut the starting price for Model 3 sedans produced in China by 16%, after receiving government subsidies for its electric vehicles.

Anixter (AXE): [NEWS] The back-and-forth between two bidders for the networking equipment maker continues, with industrial products distributor Wesco International sweetening its bid to $97 per share in cash and stock. Anixter had agreed Thursday to a sweetened takeover deal from private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice for $93.50 per share. The takeover battle began on Oct. 31 when Anixter agreed to an $82-per-share deal from Clayton Dubilier.

Bunge (BG): [NEWS] Sold its stake in an Iowa ethanol plant amid struggles for the biofuel industry. The grain processing company had held the stake for 13 years, but sold it back to Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy for an undisclosed price.

Humana (HUM): [REVIEW] Goldman Sachs added the health care company to its “Conviction Buy” list, saying it expects meaningful upward revisions to earnings estimates due to the recent repeal of a fee on health insurers.