Stocks recover on Russia sanctions impact
Stock markets mostly rose and oil prices held relatively steady Wednesday as economic sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Russia-Ukraine crisis were deemed less harsh than expected.
Brent crude stood at $96.73 per barrel, having soared to a seven-year high of $99.50 Tuesday on fears of disruptions to key Russian oil supplies.
Other commodities have also hit multi-year peaks on fears of all-out war.
"Market mood is not cheerful but the softer-than-feared sanctions somewhat help," SwissQuote analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya noted Wednesday.
Trading floors remain on edge, with Ukraine mobilising its military reserve and urging its citizens to leave Russian territory as Moscow sharpens its demands, increasing fears of all-out war.
"There isn’t much in the way of economic data to provide any fresh impetus, meaning investors will probably keep focusing on those headlines coming out of Russia and Ukraine," said ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has defied an avalanche of international sanctions to put his forces on stand-by to occupy two rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine.
Sanctions include moves against Russian banks, cutting the country off from Western financing by targeting Moscow's sovereign debt, and penalising oligarchs and their families who are part of Putin's inner circle.
US and allies including Britain have warned of further sanctions should Putin extend his country's military grip beyond the two territories in the eastern Donbas region.
So far the sanctions were not as bad as markets had feared -- crucially with none aimed at Russia's crude exports -- providing some much-needed breathing room for investors and halting the surge in oil prices that has seen both main contracts pile on more than 20 percent so far this year.
Germany has though halted certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
- 'Considerable risk' -
"There's still considerable risk that oil prices may surge above $100 a barrel" if the situation escalates, said Vivek Dhar at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
"Oil markets are particularly vulnerable at the moment given that global oil stockpiles are at seven‑year lows."
Dhar added that spare oil capacity among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, was "being questioned due to disappointing OPEC+ supply growth".
The crisis comes with investors preparing for a series of interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve as it tries to rein in 40-year-high inflation.
Commentators said that while a March hike is baked in, forecasts for further increases this year are being affected by events in Europe as officials try to assess the impact on the economy.
If energy prices jump further it could also force the hand of the ECB, which has moved slowly to wind down stimulus and hike rates.
ThinkMarkets' Razaqzada said "inflationary pressures might exacerbate in the near term and force the ECB to apply the brakes by tightening its policy faster."
- Key figures around 1430 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,544.63 points
Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.0 percent at 14,835.10
Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.3 percent at 6,872.74
EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.2 percent at 4,033.59
New York - Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 33,816.68
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.6 percent at 23,660.28 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,489.15 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $96.73 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $91.76 per barrel
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1343 from $1.1330 late Tuesday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3590 from $1.3588
Euro/pound: UP at 83.45 pence from 83.35 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 115.10 yen from 115.08 yen