After Russia launched its long-anticipated attack on Ukraine, global financial markets plunged and oil prices skyrocketed.
Dow futures fell nearly 800 points late Wednesday as investors feared a protracted conflict would drive up energy prices, exacerbate inflationary pressures, and slow economic growth. They reclaimed some ground early Thursday and were down approximately 600 points. S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 percent, while NASDAQ contracts, which are heavily weighted toward technology, fell 2%. Asia-Pacific stocks also fell, with Hong Kong and Sydney markets falling 3% and Tokyo and Seoul falling 2%, respectively. European stock markets opened down 2.5 percent to 4%. Cryptocurrency markets also experienced a sharp decline.
Additionally, the Russian ruble fell to a record low against the dollar, while stocks on the Moscow exchange fell 10%.
The attack began moments after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he had "decided to conduct a special military operation" to safeguard eastern Ukraine's Donbas region.
Oil prices increased nearly $3, surpassing $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, on concerns that the Eastern European crisis could disrupt Russian crude supplies. Russia supplies approximately 12% of the world's oil and approximately 40% of the European Union's gas. According to Eurasia Group, the majority of that fuel is delivered via pipelines, including in Ukraine.
President Biden announced sanctions against Russia on Tuesday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's deployment of military forces into Ukraine's breakaway eastern regions. Experts now predict that the United States and the European Union will respond to the latest hostilities with tougher economic sanctions, potentially inviting Russia to respond with its own.
The attack and subsequent sanctions response will have far-reaching effects on the global economy. Oil and gas prices will increase significantly, reinforcing inflationary pressures and putting financial markets and global growth under pressure.
Although the United States is not reliant on Russian energy, rising global oil prices since late 2021 have increased gasoline prices for Americans. According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gas is now $3.53, 21 cents higher than in January and 90 cents higher than a year ago. In July 2008, the highest price ever recorded for a gallon of regular gas in the United States was $4.11.
Russia ranks third in the world in terms of oil production, behind the United States and Saudi Arabia, if they choose to withdraw their oil from the global market, this will inevitably result in higher gasoline prices for American motorists.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 fell 1.8 percent to an eight-month low and is now in "correction" territory, meaning it has lost at least 10% of its recent peak, while the Dow and NASDAQ also finished lower. US stocks have fallen this year on investor expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates as soon as next month in an attempt to rein in inflation.
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