Russian equities fell the most on record on Thursday, erasing more than $150 billion in value after President Vladimir Putin ordered an operation to “demilitarize” Ukraine and targets were attacked across the country. The benchmark MOEX Russia Index is down about 50% from its October record high and along with the dollar-denominated RTS is the worst-performing stock market globally this year. The news of the invasion fueled a hunt for safe-havens, with investors fleeing equities around the world.
Moscow’s exchange said Thursday morning local time that it suspended trading in all markets after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against Ukraine.
Investors have also sold out of Russian and Ukrainian government debt, pushing up bond yields and driving prices lower.
MOEX Group, which runs the Moscow Exchange, suspended trading shortly after markets opened at 0400 GMT, and resumed trading at 0700 GMT.
No Russian assets were left unscathed, with shares and bonds plummeting as investors took stock of Russia’s move into Ukraine and the prospect of Western sanctions that may follow.
“The risk of wider and more serious sanctions looms large – a modicum of panic and a potential compliance-driven sell-off (are) not unlikely,” said BCS Global Markets in a note.
The dollar-denominated RTS stock index crashed 26% to 906.96 points, its lowest since early 2020. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 22% lower at 2,419.0 points.
Yields on Russian benchmark 10-year OFZ rouble bonds, which move inversely to prices, rose to 10.93%, their highest since early 2016.
Western countries and Japan imposed sanctions on Russian banks and individuals in response to Moscow’s recognition of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine but promised tougher measures should Russia invade.
Russia’s largest lender Sberbank said it was prepared for any developments and had worked through scenarios to guarantee its customers’ funds, assets, and interests were protected.
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