President Biden announces sanctions on Russian foreign debt, banks, and oligarchs over Ukraine invasion.
- US President Biden has announced a “first tranche” of sanctions on Russia which will prevent financing of Russian foreign debt by western banks and target influential Russian businesspersons and politicians. This is joined by the European Union and the UK who have announced similar measures. Germany has halted development of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline. However, the Russian ruble remains relatively stable and actually gained some ground against the US dollar yesterday.
- Almost all major stock markets have continued to fall but some are beginning to stabilize. The S&P 500 Index yesterday barely missed closing at its lowest price since July 2021.
- Several agricultural commodities such as soybeans and corn advanced strongly to new long-term highs yesterday, while wheat, a major Ukrainian export, rose by an unusually large 6%.
- The Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiked its Official Cash Rate by 0.25% to 1.00%, marking the third rate hike since October 2021. The Bank also sprung a hawkish surprise by forecasting a more aggressive monetary policy over the course of this year than analysts had generally expected. The NZD rose in response but not by a very significant amount.
- The Bank of England will be testifying today before the British Parliament about its monetary policy which may affect the price of the British pound.
- Daily new coronavirus cases globally seem to have peaked five weeks ago, showing that the omicron variant wave is in strong decline almost everywhere.
- It is estimated that 62.5% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 428.2 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.38%.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing only in Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, South Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.