Stocks slide on Ukraine uncertainty

The Associated PressMarch 4, 2014 

NEW YORK — Russia’s military advance into Ukraine rattled global markets Monday.

U.S. stocks fell the most in a month, and the price of crude oil rose sharply as traders feared Russian exports could be affected by sanctions. Gold and bond prices rose as investors sought safety.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its biggest drop since Feb. 3, following markets in Europe and Asia lower, as Russia’s military tightened its grip on the Crimea region of Ukraine.

It was the second time this year the U.S. stock market has been roiled by developments in emerging markets. Stocks slipped in January as investors worried about slowing growth in China and other emerging economies. Now a showdown in Ukraine has grabbed investors’ attention and stoked fears of a tit-for-tat campaign of economic sanctions between Russia and Western powers.

“Financial markets are doing exactly what you would expect them to,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors. “You have no idea what is going to happen and how this is going to play out.”

European markets fell even more. Germany’s DAX sank 3.4 percent, and Russia’s benchmark stock index plunged 12 percent.

“Europe gets a lot of energy supplies from Russia,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan funds. “So, Europe would be a lot more directly affected by a trade war with Russia than the United States would.”


The crisis has energy markets worried because a large portion of Russian natural gas for Europe, which is heavily dependent on the fuel for power and industry, moves through Ukraine. Natural gas prices rose about 6 percent on the British market, and shares of Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly that counts Ukraine as a major customer, fell more than 10 percent.

What may be keeping prices from going higher for now is that in recent years Russia has chipped away at the amount of gas that goes through Ukraine by opening the Nord Stream pipeline, which bypasses the country. In addition, because the winter has been warm, European countries have built up substantial stores of gas.

Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at the research firm Energy Aspects, estimates that Europe has about 18 days worth of gas in tanks.

The New York Times contributed to this report.

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