Investors digesting new anti-Russian sanctions from the West
Asian equity markets were mostly lower but managed to finish mixed on Monday as Russia continued its advance into Ukraine over the weekend, with investors digesting new sanctions from the West. On Sunday, President Vladimir Putin put his country’s deterrence forces on high alert in response to international backlash to Russia’s invasion. As such, the Shanghai Composite in China added 0.32%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.19%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.24% and South Korean Kospi advanced 0.84%.
In Europe, stocks were sharply lower, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 dropping 2% in early trade after more sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. European banks most exposed to Russia, including UniCredit and Societe Generale, dropped dramatically, while shares of London-listed energy major BP slid more than 4% after the company said it was abandoning its stake in the state oil company Rosneft. Meanwhile, defense companies rallied in early trade after the German government’s decision to increase defense spending.
Elsewhere, the USD index is off recent peaks but stays buoyed at the start of the week due to its safe-haven status. EURUSD bounced from lows around 1.1100 but struggled to regain the 1.1200 figure as the ECB rate hike bets are being pared back. Now, the timing of the first rate hike has been pushed back to September from June.
In other markets, gold prices came off early peaks around $1,927 and were seen trying to hold above the $1,900 handle during the European hours. In part, risk aversion has waned due to upcoming negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. The Russian negotiator said earlier in the day Moscow was interested to reach an agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Ukraine said the main goal of talks was the immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops.