Ukraine crisis

Stock markets plunge as Russia steps up attacks

Devastation is extensive

5pm: European markets were closing in on bear market territory as Russia stepped up its attacks on Ukraine with no prospect of a ceasefire in sight.

The FTSE 100 plummeted to close below the 7,000 threshold for the first time since October at 6,987.14, down 251.71 points (3.48%). The blue-chip index has lost 6.7% this week. The CAC 40 in Paris fell 5%, while the DAX 40 in Frankfurt tumbled 4.4%.

“The sell-off has gathered pace as the morning has progressed and I can’t expect the mood will improve as we head into another highly uncertain weekend,” said market analyst Craig Erlam at Oanda.

FTSE 100 today

Travel stocks were hit again, British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group fell 5.5%. 

Brent crude jumped 4.5% to $114.52 , from $113.62 on Thursday, having closed in on $120 yesterday before falling in European trading hours.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell 1.4%, 1.5% and 2% respectively at the close of the UK market on Ukraine concerns and strong jobs growth which is likely to see a tightening of monetary policy.

Employers added a higher than expected 678,000 jobs to the US workforce in February and although wage growth is levelling off it keeps the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this month.

The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, as the impact of the omicron coronavirus variant eased and workers began returning to offices.

The data easily beat most economists’ forecasts by 240,000, with the total jobs added being 200,000 higher than the January figure.

China bank snubs Russia

The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it will suspend business related to Russia and Belarus.

The bank said that “in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review”.

Brit leaves Evraz board

A British director of Russian steelmaker Evraz, which has seen its shares plummet following the invasion of Ukraine, has resigned from the board.

James Rutherford said he would be stepping down with immediate effect but gave no reason for his departure.

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