Escalating tensions and sanctions between Russia and NATO/EU are again hurting risk sentiment in global financial markets.
- Five days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has become clear the Russian military operation is performing poorly and that Ukraine has been able to mount a much more successful defense than had been widely expected. The Russian operation has lost momentum and failed to secure any towns except on the Black Sea coast. President Putin has fired and replaced the Russian Chief of Staff.
- Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia and the Russian central bank, which will struggle today to allow a greatly weakened Russian Ruble to float freely. The Ruble has already plunged to a record low. President Putin has been personally sanctioned and some Russian banks have been removed from the SWIFT payments network. However, western nations are continuing to buy Russian oil. It seems likely that the Russian stock market will not open for several days, with foreigners already banned from selling Russian stocks.
- Most European nations have not only closed their airspace to Russia, the EU has announced it will send weapons to Ukraine (presumably over land via Poland) and the British Foreign Secretary even stated she would be happy to see British citizens volunteering to fight for Ukraine. The Russians in retaliation announced a higher level of nuclear readiness.
- Ukraine and Russia will be holding diplomatic talks today as the UN General Assembly prepares to hold an emergency session on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said he expects little from the talks with Russia.
- After recovering at the end of last week markets have opened more nervously as tensions between Russia and the west have risen considerably over the weekend. Most major stock markets are trading well down on Friday’s close, while Crude Oil and to a lesser extent Gold are rising strongly again. In the Forex market, it seems the situation is boosting the US Dollar and weakening the Euro. The Swedish and Norwegian Kroner are especially weak, which is probably increased by Russia’s threat that there will be military consequences should Sweden join NATO.
- Today will see the Reserve Bank of Australia release its Cash Rate and Rate Statement. The Bank is expected to hold its Cash Rate at 0.1%.
- Daily new coronavirus cases globally seem to have peaked six weeks ago, showing that the omicron variant wave is in strong decline almost everywhere.
- It is estimated that 62.7% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 436 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.37%.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing only in Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Iceland, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.