US stocks fall amid Ukraine crisis, oil flirts with $100/barrel
Wall Street stocks fell Tuesday after President Joe Biden unveiled fresh sanctions on Moscow, while a surge in oil prices was limited by expectations the measures would not impact Russia’s crude production.
Biden, in a White House speech, said the penalties on Russia would go “far beyond” existing sanctions and include moves against two Russian banks and to cut the country off from Western financing by targeting Moscow’s sovereign debt.
Russia is facing an international backlash after President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine to secure the self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk rebel republics.
The US president’s remarks came shortly after the Dow tumbled more than two percent in the lowest moments of a downcast session.
The blue-chip index finished with a loss of 1.4 percent, contrasting with a mixed session in Europe.
After heavy falls at the open, European stocks pivoted, partly due to “a reluctance on the part of Western leaders to call last night’s move an outright invasion, as well as go all in on a full range of sanctions,” said market analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
London finished with a marginal gain, while Paris ended flat and Frankfurt shed 0.3 percent.
Germany announced it was halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia and said the European Union would adopt “robust and massive” economic sanctions.
Britain slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.
Biden characterized Washington’s moves as only a “first tranche” in response to Putin’s “carving out a big chunk of Ukraine,” adding that more penalties could follow if Putin doesn’t change course.
The US leader said more sanctions will follow if Putin extends Russia’s military grip beyond the two small territories in the eastern Donbas region that are already under control of Russian-backed separatists.
Meanwhile, Brent North Sea crude oil reached $99.50 per barrel, the highest level in seven years before pulling back to under $97.
“The intensifying crisis between Russia and Ukraine has raised concerns about the supply disruptions that would ensue as sanctions look set to cripple Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter and the world’s top natural gas producer,” noted Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.
But James Williams of WTRG Economics noted that the US sanctions did not limit Russia’s access to the Swift international system of payments, which could have crimped Russia’s petroleum transactions.
The penalties announced thus far will not affect Russian oil exports, Williams added.
– Key figures around 2040 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 1.4 percent at 33,596.61 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 1.0 percent t 4,304.76 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 1.2 percent at 13,381.52 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,494.21 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.3 percent at 14,693.00 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 6,787.60 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,985.47 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.7 percent at 26,449.61 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 2.7 percent at 23,520.00 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,457.15 (close)
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.5 percent at $96.84 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $92.35 per barrel
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1330 from $1.1311 late Monday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3588 from $1.3602
Euro/pound: UP at 83.35 pence from 83.16 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 115.08 yen from 114.74 yen