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BANGKOK: Asian shares slipped Friday and oil prices moderated as investors assessed the likely global impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to AP.

Benchmarks fell more than 2 percent in Tokyo and Hong Kong and declined in most other Asian markets.

Russian forces gained ground, shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and sparking a fire early Friday as they pressed their attack on a crucial energy-producing Ukrainian city.

But authorities said the blaze was safely extinguished with no victims. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that the Zaporizhzhia plant’s reactors were protected by robust containment structures and were being safely shut down.

China was preparing to open the annual session Saturday of its largely ceremonial legislature, with the focus likely to be squarely on boosting growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 2.2 percent to 25,985.47 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 2.6 percent to 21,876.28. In Seoul, the Kospi declined 1.2 percent to 2,713.43.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 1 percent to 3,447.65.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6 percent to 7,119.80.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 fell 23.05 points to 4,363.49. The Dow slid 0.3 percent to 33,794.66. The Nasdaq dropped 214.07 points to 13,537.94.

Smaller company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 index fell 26.46 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,032.41.

The pullback left the indexes on pace for weekly losses, as meanwhile bond yields were mostly steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.85 percent from 1.86 percent late Wednesday.

Stocks rallied mid-week after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said he favored a modest interest rate increase at a policy meeting later this month. That reassured investors worried he might back more aggressive moves to fight inflation.

Powell warned Thursday that the fighting in Ukraine is likely to further magnify the high inflation troubling world economies. Russia is a key oil producer and prices have been rising as global supplies are threatened by the conflict, raising concerns that persistent inflation could become even hotter.

Powell said he is committed to doing whatever is necessary to slow inflation, underscoring the high-risk challenge in raising interest rates enough to cool price pressures without triggering another recession.

“For a world that was already grappling with worryingly high (cost-push) inflation before Ukraine’s invasion, the surge in commodity prices from the geo-political spill-over is not merely an inconvenience, but rather a binding economic threat,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

Early Friday, US benchmark crude was up $1.34 to $109.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $2.93 to $107.67 per barrel on Thursday.
Brent crude, the international price standard, added $1 to $111.46.

Trading on the Moscow exchange was due to remain closed on Friday. Russia’s ruble lost about 5 percent against the US dollar and is worth less than 1 cent. It has plunged since Western governments imposed sanctions that cut off much of Russia’s access to the global financial system.

Investors will get an update on the US jobs market on Friday when the Labor Department releases its report for February.
In currency trading, the US dollar bought 115.52 Japanese yen, up from 115.47 on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1018 from $1.1066.

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