Futures in the United States and Europe are plunging, following reports that Russia is carrying out airstrikes on Ukrainian military compounds and communication centres near Kyiv. Moreover, the fact that trading has ceased for the Moscow exchange is creating further panic among traders. Oil prices are shattering their previous high and Brent crude as topped $102 mark as traders are concerned about supply.
It’s worth noting that rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine are putting a damper on investors’ willingness to take risks. Stock traders are faced with a myriad of threats that are fuelling market uncertainty, with rising inflation at the heart of all concerns.
Consumer prices had already been rising in recent months as a result of the rapid economic recovery and supply chain bottlenecks. The risk of Russia invading its neighbour is now feeding an already raging fire. The fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine, the US and its western allies are likely to ramp up sanctions against the country. If additional restrictions are imposed, global oil supply could suffer yet another setback, causing oil prices to skyrocket. These changes could cause inflation to rise even further, prompting the Federal Reserve to become more hawkish in 2022.
In yesterday’s session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.38%, and the S&P 500 index slumped 1.84%. The Nasdaq, the tech-savvy index, dropped 2.57% while the Russell 2000 dipped 1.82%. Today, investors will be digesting a variety of economic reports, including GDP and unemployment claims data from the United States of America. Furthermore, home sales figures are expected to hit the markets today as well.
Looking at the Nasdaq index over the last few months, it is clear that technology stocks have been the biggest victims of recent developments ranging from monetary policy tightening to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ark Invest CEO, Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund (ETF) fell nearly 4% yesterday and has been declining for the last five sessions. Similarly, Tesla’s stock price has dropped nearly 27% since the beginning of 2022. Broadly speaking, the Nasdaq index has fallen nearly 20% from its highs reached last November.
The decline in growth and technology stocks indicates that investors are shifting away from risky and speculative assets because markets have not rewarding such strategies appropriately. Moving forward, investors should expect waves of volatility to continue in the short term until geopolitical tensions subside and the consequences of an aggressive monetary policy are appropriately weighed.
Following reports that Russia has launched military action against Ukraine, risky assets in general have taken a severe beating, with the price of bitcoin falling to nearly $34,900. Moving forward, cryptocurrency prices, like the broader financial markets, are likely to be volatile in the coming weeks, influenced heavily by events related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Furthermore, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve are expected to put downward pressure on bitcoin prices. This is because hawkish monetary policy would raise the cost of capital, removing liquidity from markets that have supported risky assets since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Crude oil prices jumped nearly 4% following reports that Russia had started attacks on its neighbour. The price of Brent, which is considered to be the global benchmark of crude oil, hopped above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014. As Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of crude oil in the European region, oil prices have been and are extremely sensitive to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. According to JPMorgan Chase & Co., oil prices are likely to trade near $110 per barrel in the second quarter of 2022.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine are also deteriorating rapidly, with the latter announcing a state of emergency on Wednesday. Following the surge in volatility in global financial markets and the slump in stock prices of risky assets, investors are parking their capital into safe haven commodities, which include gold, which provides investors a hedge against uncertainty and rising inflation.
Asian Pacific Markets
Asian and Pacific stock markets have also declined following the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine. As of 12.23 a.m. EST, the Nikkei dipped 1.98% and the Shanghai index fell 1.94%. The Hang Seng index, in Hong Kong, dropped 3.67%. The ASX 200 index slumped 2.88%, while the Seoul Kospi declined 2.33%.