(Bloomberg) – Russian markets plunged as military attacks across Ukraine sparked emergency central bank action and investors braced for the toughest round of Western sanctions yet, wiping out about $180 billion in market value.
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The ruble fell to a record low and stocks suffered their steepest decline on record, forcing a second shutdown of the Moscow Stock Exchange. The Bank of Russia said it would intervene in the foreign exchange market for the first time in years and take steps to bring financial market volatility under control.
Russia attacks targets across Ukraine; Biden promises sanctions
The military attack on Ukraine has cast a veil over global markets and sparked a new surge in global risk aversion. Russian assets have dealt the main blow after President Vladimir Putin ordered an operation to “demilitarize” the country, prompting international condemnation and a US threat of new “tough sanctions” against Moscow.
“A significant overshoot is possible, and the dollar-ruble at 100 is certainly well within range,” said Commerzbank AG strategist Ulrich Leuchtmann. “I don’t think interventions will be the primary instrument of choice. They can only prevent extreme overshoots. Rate hikes should follow soon.
Russia’s central bank made no mention of an interest rate hike, but said it would provide additional liquidity to banks by offering 1 trillion rubles ($11.5 billion) in a an overnight pension auction. Policymakers have raised the benchmark rate by 525 basis points over the past 12 months to keep inflation in check.
Putin’s Financial Fortress Eases Impact of Sanctions Threats
The MOEX index was trading down 29% at 2,196.30 at 10:36 a.m. in Moscow. The ruble weakened as much as 9.4% in local trading to 89.60 before narrowing the loss to 7.2%. Currency options see a more than 50% chance of the ruble touching 100 to the dollar in the second quarter.
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