TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks fell on Monday after Western countries moved to toughen sanctions on Russia and President Vladimir Putin escalated tensions by ordering Russian nuclear forces to be placed on high alert. .
US futures fell, with the contract for the S&P 500 down 2.5% and that for the Dow industrials 1.6% lower.
Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai were down while Sydney was up.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent markets swinging wildly, given the potential impact on inflation, energy supply and other repercussions.
The end of the month usually brings a series of economic data, but for now the conflict overshadows other issues.
“It all depends on the Russian-Ukrainian situation and developments in that situation will determine market sentiment and direction,” Oanda’s Jeffrey Halley said in a commentary.
“President Putin will now have to accept that the ‘Western’ powers are willing to accept quite a bit of economic pain now to punish Russia,” he said.
The Russian ruble weakened sharply last week but remained stable on Monday morning at 83.86 to the dollar.
Putin ordered Russian nuclear weapons primed for heightened launch readiness on Sunday, heightening tensions with Europe and the United States in a move that has exposed simmering Cold War-era fears.
Japan has joined the initiatives of the United States and other Western countries to impose penalties against Russia, in particular by blocking certain Russian banks from the global payment system SWIFT.
The central bank restrictions target access to the more than $600 billion in reserves the Kremlin has and aim to block Russia’s ability to prop up the ruble as it plunges in value.
The sanctions announced earlier took its currency to an all-time low against the dollar and gave its stock market its worst week on record.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4% to 26,366.60 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 1.4% to 22,445.66. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.1% at 3,446.44. The Kospi in Seoul was virtually unchanged at 2,678.17, while in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 7,023.70.
Although Asia is unlikely to suffer direct damage from the war in Ukraine, higher energy prices are an unwelcome burden on oil-importing nations like Japan, especially as they still struggle to recover from the pandemic.
Stressing the aggravation of divisions due to the conflict, BP said on Sunday it was giving up its 19.75% stake in Rosneft, a Russian state-controlled oil and gas company, which it had held since 2013. This stake is currently valued at $14 billion.
Oil prices jumped on Monday, with benchmark U.S. crude up $4.95, or 5.4%, at $96.54 a barrel.
Brent crude gained $4.68 to $98.80 a barrel, up 4.9% and closing in on the $100 a barrel level it broke last week.
On Friday, the S&P 500 climbed 2.2%, posting its first weekly gain in three weeks to close at 4,384.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.5% to 34,058.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.6% to 13,694.62 after swinging between modest gains and losses. The Russell 2000 Index rose 2.3% to 2,040.923.
The conflict in Ukraine added uncertainty to other concerns about interest rates and inflation.
United States Federal Reserve suggested he will raise short-term interest rates next month by double their usual increase, the first rate increase since 2018. Rising U.S. rates tend to put downward pressure on all sorts of investments and can have global repercussions.
In currency trading, the US dollar fell slightly to 115.46 Japanese yen from 115.77 yen. The euro barely changed at $1.1155 from $1.1157.
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