Global stock markets were mixed on Friday after Western governments promised new sanctions on Russia and President Vladimir Putin tried to prop up Moscow's sinking ruble by threatening to require Europe to use the Russian currency to pay for gas exports. London and Shanghai declined while Tokyo gained, and Frankfurt was little-changed.
Oil fell but stayed above USD110 per barrel. Wall Street futures declined a day after gaining as the number of Americans applying for unemployment fell to a 52-year low. Western leaders meeting on Thursday in Brussels promised more sanctions. US President Joe Biden said they were meant to "increase the pain" on Putin, but the leaders released no details of possible new penalties. Putin threatened to require European customers that rely on Russia gas supplies to pay in rubles, a move that would increase demand for the Russian currency, pushing up an exchange rate that has slumped under sanctions. European leaders on Thursday rejected that possibility, potentially setting up a clash over energy supplies.
Putin's demand is a "cunning gambit" to frustrate sanctions while "elevating uncertainty for the West", said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report. In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.2 per cent to 7,454.92 and the DAX in Frankfurt was off less than 0.1 per cent at 14,267.95. The CAC in Paris sank 0.1 per cent to 6,550.00. On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S & P 500 index gained 0.2 per cent. That for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 per cent.
On Thursday, the S & P 500 gained 1.4 per cent and the Dow added 1 per cent. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.9 per cent. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.2 per cent to 3,212.24 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.1 per cent to 28,149.84. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 2.5 per cent to 21,404.88. The Kospi in Seoul was little-changed at 2,729.98 while Sydney's S & P-ASX 200 gained 0.3 per cent to 7,406.20. India's Sensex lost 0.8 per cent to 57,152.53. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok advanced while Jakarta declined. Russia's Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine sparked investor unease about the impact on prices of oil, gas, wheat and other commodities.
Russia is the second-biggest crude exporter and both Moscow and Ukraine are major wheat suppliers. Markets already were on edge about plans by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to fight surging inflation by rolling back ultra-low interest rates and other stimulus that is pushing up stock prices. Oil prices are up more than 50 per cent in 2022 due to worries about inflation and possible supply disruptions. Benchmark US crude lost USD2.02 to U110.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract fell USD2.59 on Thursday to USD112.34. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, sank US1.78 to USD113.52 per barrel in London. It lost USD2.57 the previous session to USD119.03 a barrel. The dollar declined to 121.54 yen from Thursday's 122.26 yen. The euro gained to USD1.1021 from USD1.0997.