russia ukraine
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.Associated Press
  • Global shares traded cautiously higher on Wednesday, paring the previous day's losses after Western governments sanctioned Russia.
  • US stock futures followed European and Asian equities up, while safe havens such as gold and bonds eased. 
  • Cryptocurrencies rallied sharply as investors went bargain-hunting, pushing up bitcoin and ether.

Global stocks rose on Wednesday in cautious trade, while perceived safe-havens such as gold eased, after Western governments unveiled sanctions on Russia after it recognised two eastern regions of Ukraine as independent. 

The US and UK unveiled harsh sanctions against Moscow on Tuesday, and European Union countries agreed to impose a first round of sanctions. All 27 member countries on the European Union need to agree on those plans before they can be implemented.

The US sanctions target Russian financial institutions, the country's sovereign debt, and Russian elites.

The UK's sanctions target Russian banks and billionaires, and the foreign minister said they can be escalated if Russia continues its actions in Ukraine.

The sanctions came a day after Russian premier Vladimir Putin recognized Kremlin-backed separatists' territorial claims in eastern Ukraine and ordered troops into the region in a possible lead-up to a major attack.

Michael Brown, Head of Market Intelligence at Caxton, noted that sentiment began to shift after these sanctions were levied on Russia, pushing stocks up.

"This saw equities pare the steep losses made early doors, as well as both long duration government debt and Brent erase all of their earlier gains," he said. 

S&P 500 futures jumped 0.8%, while those on the NASDAQ 100 gained 1.1% and those on the Dow Jones rose 0.7% at the time of writing.

Global stocks pushed higher on the back of these sanctions with the MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares was up 0.12%, leaving the MSCI global index up 0.24%. Elsewhere on Wednesday the Stoxx 600 in Europe was up 0.91%, at the time of writing.

Gold eased from nine-month highs on Wednesday, in line with the apparent decline in risk aversion. It was last trading down 0.5% on the day around $1,897 an ounce. 

Oil prices came under pressure from some investor profit-taking, after crude neared $100 a barrel earlier this week, as tensions mounted in Eastern Europe. Russia is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of oil and gas and the prospect of supply disruptions has super-charged a rally in the crude market. Brent crude was last down around 0.5% at $93.44 a barrel, having hit $99.50 on Tuesday, its highest since late 2014.

"Sanctions announced up until now should not have much impact on Russian oil exports. Local banks which are heavily involved within the commodities industry have been left untouched. However, the oil market will likely continue to price in a fairly large risk premium, given that there is still plenty of uncertainty," ING strategist Warren Patterson said in a daily research note.

In retaliation for Russia's actions, Germany halted approval for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will double the capacity of Russian natural gas delivered into northwest Europe, which has pushed up regional benchmark gas prices by another 5% on Wednesday, bringing gains over the last week to 20%.

In the cryptocurrency market, bitcoin and ethereum were both up on Wednesday, by 4.5% and 6.5%, respectively, as investors bought the dip. This leaves bitcoin at $38,878, down around 12% in the last week, while ethereum's ether has lost 13.3% in that time, according to Coinmarketcap.

Read the original article on Business Insider