LONDON: Global stock markets fell across the board on Friday and energy prices soared as investors feared the risk of an escalation after Russia attacked the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Oil prices shot up again around 3.5pc on fears of supply disruptions to Russian crude but were well below the almost $120 per barrel reached on Thursday.
Europe’s main stock markets closed sharply lower, with Paris down 4.97 per cent, its lowest since the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020.
Asian indices had earlier closed sharply lower and Wall Street saw drops of around 1pc in mid-day trading — tempered by a solid jobs report.
The euro sank close to a two-year low under $1.10 as the Ukraine conflict clouds the eurozone’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The greenback benefited also from its status as a haven investment.
“Investors have piled out of European stocks this week, accelerating a decline that began at the end of last month, and has accelerated over the last two days,” said analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
“This morning’s reckless shelling of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant by Russian forces shows that (President Vladimir) Putin is becoming increasingly desperate to obtain a victory in the face of numerous setbacks,” he said.
“These actions are a significant escalation and raise the question as to whether Putin could adopt a scorched earth policy in his attempts to crush Ukrainian resistance,” Hewson added.
European and UK gas prices surged to record peaks Friday on supply disruption fears as a result of key supplier Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine.
Europe’s reference Dutch TTF gas price struck 213.895 euros per megawatt hour in afternoon deals, while UK gas prices hit 508.80 pence per therm.
In New York, the Dow, S&P and the Nasdaq all fell in mid-day trading as worries about the worsening picture of the Russia-Ukraine conflict overshadowed a strong US jobs report.
US employers added 678,000 workers to their payrolls in February, driving the unemployment rate down to 3.8pc in a monthly report that was better than expected.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2022