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World stocks, Wall Street futures sink on Ukraine invasion fears

BEIJING (AP) – Global stocks and Wall Street futures tumbled yesterday as fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine mounted.

Frankfurt and Paris opened down more than three per cent. London lost two per cent and Tokyo slid 2.2 per cent. Shanghai and Hong Kong also retreated.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 1.9 per cent on Friday after the White House told Americans to leave Ukraine within 48 hours. Other governments including Russia pulled diplomats and their citizens out of the country.

Russia is one of the biggest oil producers. Any military action that disrupts supplies could send shockwaves through energy markets and global industry.

“Markets are belatedly waking up to the geopolitical risks posed by Russian military action against Ukraine,” Rabobank said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London declined to 7,509.19. The DAX in Frankfurt slid 3.3 per cent to 14,917.22. The CAC in Paris shed 3.1 per cent 6,793.36.

On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 0.7 per cent.

People walk past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AP

On Friday, the S&P turned in its fourth weekly loss in six weeks after President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the threat of a Russian attack is “immediate enough” that Americans should leave Ukraine.

The Dow lost 1.4 per cent and the Nasdaq composite dropped 2.8 per cent.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo retreated to 27,079.59 after Japan’s central bank tried yesterday to curb a surge in long-term interest rates by offering to buy government bonds.

The offer set the interest rate for purchasing 10-year bonds at 0.25 per cent. It drew no bids but market interest rates declined after the offer assured investors of central bank support.

Japanese market interest rates have risen on expectations the Bank of Japan might follow the Federal Reserve and other central banks in withdrawing ultra-loose monetary policy and other stimulus that is boosting share prices.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.4 per cent to 24,556.57. The Kospi in Seoul retreated 1.6 per cent to 2,704.48.

The Shanghai Composite Index shed one per cent to 3,428.88 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4 per cent to 7,243.90.

India’s Sensex declined 2.7 per cent to 56,600.70. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

Investors already were on edge about Fed plans to wind down economic stimulus to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high and about how quickly Europe and other central banks would follow.

Investors moved money into Treasury bonds, gold and other assets seen as safe havens.

The market price of a 10-year Treasury rose on Friday, pushing down its yield, or the difference between the day’s price and the payout if held to maturity, to 1.91 per cent from Thursday’s 2.03 per cent.

Treasury prices had been falling on expectations the Fed will raise interest rates as many as seven times this year. If the Fed succeeds in cooling inflation, that would increase the buying power of the payout from bonds, making them a more attractive investment.

In energy markets, benchmark United States (US) crude declined 33 cents to USD92.77 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added USD3.22 on Friday to USD93.10. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, declined 38 cents to USD94.06 per barrel in London. It gained USD3.03 the previous session to USD94.44.

The dollar declined to JPY115.17 from Friday’s JPY115.27. The euro retreated to USD1.1317 from USD1.1334.