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Stock markets slump as Russia launches invasion of Ukraine

Stock markets slump

The Hang Seng tumbled 3.4%, China’s CSI 300 dropped 2.1%, Korea’s Kospi shed 2.5% and the Topix eased 1.8%

Asian stock markets fell heavily as Russia launched a huge assault on Ukraine, attacking multiple cities as it vowed to ‘demilitarise’ the country.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said he does not plan to ‘occupy’ its neighbour, but said it needs to defend itself from Nato expansion and called on Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their arms.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba called the invasion a ‘war of aggression’ and warned the country was facing a ‘full-scale invasion’, in a tweet.

The massive escalation in hostilities rattled markets, with the Hang Seng tumbling 3.4%, China’s CSI 300 dropping 2.1%, Korea’s Kospi shedding 2.5% and the Topix easing 1.8%. Futures point to the S&P 500 opening down around 2.2%, while trading on the Russian stock market has been suspended.

Oil prices climbed above $100 for the first time in eight years on the news, with gold also rising and the yield on 10-year US Treasuries dropping nearly 11 basis points to below 1.9%.

Reports of missile attacks on cities across the country were mounting within minutes of a televised address by Putin, where he announced the ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.

We do not intend to occupy Ukraine. To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside, if you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me, he said.

US president Joe Biden branded the attack a ‘premeditated war that will bring catastrophic loss of life and human suffering’.

The US last night ratcheted up its sanctions on Russia, after Putin earlier sent troops into the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, arguing they belonged to Russia, effectively denying the existence of Ukraine.

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