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Markets tumble and oil soars after Putin launches war with Ukraine

The FTSE 100 closed the day down nearly 4% on Thursday, wiping £77 billion off the top 100 listed companies in the UK.

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Markets were already tanking before trading opened in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Markets were already tanking before trading opened in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Markets were already tanking before trading opened in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Markets across the globe slumped and oil prices soared to levels not seen in eight years as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Trading was suspended on the Moscow Stock Exchange on Thursday morning before reopening. It dropped 45% at points and finished the day down 33%.

The rouble also plummeted to a record low against the dollar.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

The instability in Eastern Europe sent oil up 7.4% to 104.03 dollars a barrel as markets closed at 4.30pm.

In London, the FTSE 100 leading index of shares lost more than 200 points when opening at 8am.

By lunchtime it was still falling and ended the day down 291 points, or 3.9%, at 7207.01 – marking the biggest single-day fall since June last year, wiping £77 billion of the value of the UK’s biggest listed companies.

The FTSE 250 closed down 2.8%.

France and Germany saw even heavier falls, with the countries’ leading stock indexes closing 3.8% and 4% respectively.

UK gas prices shot up by a third, while global wheat prices are also soaring.

Ukraine is a major food supplier, something experts say could push up inflation and put further pressure on household finances.

“Not only will energy bills keep going up, but food prices look set to jump even higher. Ukraine and Russia are both big food suppliers and any disruption to supplies will force buyers to seek alternative sources, which could jack up prices,” said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

Russian-facing companies on the FTSE 100 took the brunt of the hits, with further sanctions looming.

Shares in mining firms Evraz and Polymetal International fell by between a quarter and a third.

Evraz shares closed down 30% on the day – wiping nearly £300 million off the value of its largest shareholder Roman Abramovich.

The Chelsea FC owner had faced calls in parliament to be banned from controlling the football club as part of wide-ranging sanctions.

Polymetal shares closed down 37%.

Only seven of the 100 companies on the leading index, which is linked to pensions, saw shares in positive territory as markets closed.

Spooked by the movements, Polymetal said: “Polymetal believes that targeted sanctions on the company remain unlikely.

“Contingency planning has been initiated proactively to ensure business continuity.”

Starting from around 3am UK time, attacks were reported across Ukraine, including in several western cities, close to the border with Poland.

That triggered the price of Brent crude oil to jump by 8% by 11.40am UK time to 104.56 dollars per barrel, hitting its highest point since 2014 before falling back slightly.

Around the same time the rouble tanked.

The US dollar gained more than 10% against the Russian currency at one point.

European currencies also fell against the dollar during the day, although both recovered when markets closed.

Early in the morning, the Moscow Stock Exchange said it had “suspended trading on all of its markets until further notice”.

But it later restarted at 10am local time, 7am in the UK, at which point it dropped 30%.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday morning that he had spoken to the leaders of the US, Germany, the EU, Poland and the UK.

He said he had “urged to stop Putin, war against (Ukraine) and the world immediately. Building an anti-Putin coalition. Immediate sanctions, defence and financial support to (Ukraine). Close the airspace. The world must force (Russia) into peace”.

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