Oil prices jump, stocks fall as Ukraine crisis escalates

By JOE McDONALD

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets rebounded on Wednesday after Wall Street slipped on concern over President Vladimir Putin’s authorization to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

Shanghai, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia grew. Oil prices rose slightly on fears of a possible disruption in Russian supplies. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Global stock prices fell on Tuesday as traders grappled with the impact of Russia’s measures and sanctions imposed by Washington, Britain and the 27-nation European Union on its banks, officials and chiefs of business.

“The current US sanctions against Russia are less than dreaded by the market,” ActivTrades’ Anderson Alves said in a report. However, Alves noted that U.S. officials have “more acute options,” including reducing Russia’s access to the SWIFT system for global banking transactions.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1% on Tuesday to 4,304.76. That puts it 10.3% below its all-time high on Jan. 3 and into what traders call a correction, or a decline of at least 10% but less than 20%.

On Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4% to 3,469.57 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.6% to 23,657.49.

Seoul’s Kospi advanced 0.2% to 2,712.69 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4% to 7,186.30.

New Zealand and Indonesia won. Singapore and Bangkok declined.

Also on Tuesday, Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.4% to 33,596.61. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.2% to 13,381.52.

US stocks were already far from their Jan. 3 peak due to uncertainty over the impact of the Federal Reserve’s decision to withdraw ultra-low interest rates and other economic stimulus.

Markets were shaken after Putin recognized the independence of rebel-held areas in Ukraine and sent in troops in defiance of US and European pressure.

Wheat prices rose on concerns about disrupted supplies from Russia and Ukraine.

Prices for nickel and aluminum, of which Russia is a major supplier, have also increased.

European natural gas prices jumped after Germany withdrew a key document needed to certify the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 43 cents a barrel to $91.94 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.28 on Tuesday to $92.35. Brent crude, the price base for international oils, rose 4 cents to $93.89 a barrel in London. It gained $1.45 the previous session at $96.84.

The dollar was little changed at 115.08 yen. The euro fell to $1.1324 from $1.1334.


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Felix J. Dixon