How Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens to hit global markets
17 Nov 2022
A potential invasion of Ukraine by neighbouring Russia would be felt across several markets, from wheat and energy prices and the region’s sovereign dollar bonds to safe-haven assets and stock markets.
Below are five signs that a potential escalation of tensions could be felt across global markets:
A major risk event usually sees investors rushing back to bonds, generally seen as the safest assets, and this time may not be different, even if a Russian invasion of Ukraine risks further fanning oil prices — and therefore inflation.
Inflation at multi-decade highs and impending interest rate rises have made for a tetchy start to the year for bond markets, with U.S. 10-year rates still hovering close to the key 2% level and German 10-year yields above 0% for the first time since 2019.
In forex markets, the euro/Swiss franc exchange rate is seen as the biggest indicator of geopolitical risk in the euro zone as the Swiss currency has long been viewed by investors a haven
It hit its strongest levels since May 2015 in late January.
Gold, also seen as a shelter in times of conflict or economic strife, is clinging to 13-month peaks.
Listed western firms could also feel the consequences from a Russian invasion, though for energy firms any blow to revenues or profits might be somewhat offset by a potential oil price jump.
Britain’s BP owns a 19.75% stake in Rosneft, which makes up a third of its production, and has several joint ventures with Russia’s largest oil producer.
Shell holds a 27.5% stake in Russia’s first LNG plant, Sakhalin 2, accounting for a third of the country’s total LNG exports, as well as several joint ventures with state energy giant Gazprom.
U.S. energy firm Exxon operates through a subsidiary, the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project, in which India’s state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp also holds a stake. Norway’s Equinor is also active in the country.
Analysts expect natural gas exports from Russia to Western Europe to be significantly reduced through both Ukraine and Belarus in the event of sanctions, saying gas prices could revisit Q4 levels.
Oil markets could also be affected through curbs or disruption. Ukraine moves Russian oil to Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Ukraine’s transit of Russian crude for export to the bloc was 11.9 million metric tonnes in 2021, down from 12.3 million metric tonnes in 2020, S&P Global Platts said in a note.