Dow futures and Asian markets plunge as Russia-Ukraine crisis escalates

that of Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (HSI) down 3.2%. Korean Kospi fell 2.7%. from Japan Nikki 225 (N225) lost 2.4% on returning from vacation. China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.9%.

US stock futures also fell. Dow futures were down up to 780 points, or 2.4%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures fell 2.3% and 2.8% respectively.

The Moscow Stock Exchange announced on Thursday that it had suspended trading on all of its markets until further notice.

The Russian ruble fell nearly 10% against the US dollar, trading at 89.59 to the dollar.

The market turbulence comes as CNN crews in Ukraine reported outbursts. Putin announced a military operation in the Donbas region from eastern Ukraine early Thursday local time.

In the speech broadcast on Russian national television, Putin urged Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and return home, saying any responsibility for any possible bloodshed will rest entirely with the conscience of the Ukrainian government.

Putin’s speech came as concerns mounted over an impending full-scale Russian invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a moving speech on Thursday that Russian leaders had approved military action in Ukraine and promised the country would defend itself.

“Geopolitical risks remain at the forefront, weighing on risky assets as heightened uncertainty over Ukraine continues to keep market participants on edge,” wrote Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist for IG Group, in a note Thursday.

He added that Putin is likely “ready to bear the economic impact of sanctions, which could call into question what Western powers can do to prevent an invasion.”

Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. U.S. crude jumped 4.8% to $96.55 a barrel.

Chinese tech stocks ignore call from state media

Meanwhile, Chinese tech stocks fell on Thursday despite state media seeking to reassure investors about regulatory issues.

On Friday, Chinese authorities released a set of new rules to help the service industry recover from the pandemic, and ordered online delivery platforms to reduce the service fees or commissions they charge businesses.

The announcement sparked fears of another tech crackdown and sent tech stocks tumbling this week. Online food delivery platform Meituan has plunged more than 20% since Friday.

The state-run Economic Daily tried Wednesday to play down the fears.

The market has “overreacted” to government directives that food delivery platforms should reduce the service fees they charge businesses, the Economic Daily, a public newspaper, said. editorialadding that the aim of the policy is not to target the internet economy but to support the service sector in the post-pandemic recovery process.

“The guide is over 5,000 words, with only a few lines about platform economics,” the newspaper said.
But tech investors are still nervous. Meituan was down 2.4%. Tencent, which has a major stake in Meituan, fell 3%. Alibaba, which owns food delivery platform, fell more than 6%.

Alibaba is due to reveal its quarterly results later Thursday.

CNN Business’ Matt Egan contributed to the report.

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