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Asia Markets Fall as Russia Attacks Ukraine; Oil and Gold Prices Pop

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Shares in Asia-Pacific declined on Thursday.
  • Fears over the escalating tensions in Russia and Ukraine remain in focus. Ukraine on Wednesday announced that it intends to impose a state of emergency for 30 days with the possibility of an extension. The measure must first be approved by parliament.
  • Major averages in the U.S. fell to fresh lows for the year overnight on Wall Street.

SINGAPORE — Oil futures jumped and Asia-Pacific shares fell on Thursday as investors watched the escalating situation between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a public address that he had authorized a military operation in Ukraine, and NBC News reported explosions were heard in Kyiv.

U.S. crude futures rose 6.21% to trade at $97.82 per barrel in Asia on Thursday. The international benchmark Brent crude futures climbed by 6.54% to $103.17 per barrel, crossing the $100 level for the first time since 2014.

Spot gold, traditionally a safe haven in times of uncertainty, rose 1.86% and last traded at $1,943.10.

Markets across Asia were in negative territory.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined by 1.81% to close at 25,970.82, while the Topix slid by 1.25% to 1,857.58.

South Korea's Kospi was down 2.6% at 2,648.80, and the Kosdaq dropped 3.32% to 848.21. The Bank of Korea kept interest rates unchanged at 1.25% at its meeting on Thursday. However, it predicted that consumer price inflation will run "substantially above 3% for a considerable time."

The Shanghai composite in mainland China fell 1.7% to close at 3,429.96 and the Shenzhen component dropped 2.2% to 13,252.24.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 3.6% in late trade. Shares of Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime Group plunged around 11% after Hang Seng Indexes announced that its weighting in the Hang Seng Tech index when it is included in March would be 0.24%, revised down from 3.94%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.99% to 6,990.6, with banks, miners and oil stocks largely down.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 3.45% lower.

On the earnings front, Alibaba will be reporting its third-quarter earnings late in Asia.

Russia-Ukraine crisis

Concerns over the escalating tensions in Russia and Ukraine remain in focus.

Ukraine on Wednesday announced that it intends to impose a state of emergency for 30 days with the possibility of an extension. The measure must first be approved by parliament. The country also warned its citizens to leave Russia and avoid traveling there.

The crisis entered a new phase this week when Putin said Moscow would formally recognize the independence of two pro-Moscow breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Russian state-controlled media reported that Moscow had started evacuating people from its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

Overnight on Wall Street, the three major indexes continued to fall. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% and slid deeper into correction, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.38% to 33,131.76. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite lost 2.6% to 13,037.49.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.522, up from 96.190.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.44 per dollar, while the Australian dollar was at $0.7177 after falling from $0.7233.

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