Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, which could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945, has immediately stoked alarm among investors, who had been hoping such an outcome would be avoided.
What’s happening: News early Thursday that Russian forces had begun an attack on Ukraine, with reports of troops crossing the border to the north and south, immediately reverberated across the market.
Traders, who had already been on edge about soaring inflation and the looming end of pandemic-era support from central banks, dumped riskier assets like stocks while rushing into traditional safe-haven assets such as gold that get a boost during periods of uncertainty. Global oil prices topped $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014.
“Financial markets are predictably witnessing a flight to safety and may have to price in slower growth on the further spike in energy prices,” Chris Turner, ING’s global head of markets, said in a note to clients.
Here’s a rundown of how financial markets have been impacted.
Global stocks: Stocks in Asia plunged, but the sell-off accelerated as trading kicked off Europe. The region’s Stoxx 600 index plummeted almost 4% in early trading. Germany’s benchmark DAX index was nearly 5% lower. US stock futures also point to major losses when markets open.
Russian stocks: The MOEX index crashed by more than 40%. The Moscow stock exchange suspended trading earlier on Thursday. But when dealing resumed, stocks went into free-fall.
The ruble: Russia’s currency collapsed, hitting an all-time low against the US dollar and the euro. It was last trading at almost 84 to the dollar.
Crypto: Bitcoin, already under huge pressure, lost another 6% and was last trading near $35,000. It’s shed roughly half its value after hitting an all-time high in November. Ether also took a hit, dropping 9%.
Oil and gas: Oil prices are experiencing their biggest one-day run-up since 2020. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, are up more than 8%, with oil topping $105 per barrel. In the United States, oil is near $100 per barrel. Natural gas prices are surging, too.
Gold: The yellow metal, which typically gets a boost when Wall Street is worried about inflation, jumped 3% to more than $1,960 per ounce. That’s its highest level since the middle of 2020.
Grains: Russia is the world’s top exporter of wheat, while Ukraine is a significant exporter of both wheat and corn. Wheat prices jumped almost 6% to their highest level since 2012. The price of corn leaped 5%.
Volatility: The VIX, which tracks S&P 500 volatility, just spiked 20%. The index is now at its highest level in more than a year.