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A customer hands over Russian rouble banknotes and coins to a vendor at a market in Omsk, Russia. Picture: REUTERS/ALEXEY MALGAVKO
A customer hands over Russian rouble banknotes and coins to a vendor at a market in Omsk, Russia. Picture: REUTERS/ALEXEY MALGAVKO

Hong Kong — Markets paused for breath on Tuesday, after days of volatility, with Asian shares edging up and gold slipping slightly as investors watched the conflict in Ukraine unfold, and weighed its economic implications, notably regarding energy prices.

Global share markets have tumbled in recent days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and western allies’ ramping up of sanctions including cutting off some of Russia's banks from the Swift financial network and limiting Moscow’s ability to deploy its $630bn foreign reserves.

High-level talks between Kyiv and Moscow last night ended with no agreement except to keep talking, but Asian markets stabilised on signs of no immediate escalation of sanctions.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.5% in early trading.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.38%, boosted by financial and tech stocks ahead of a central bank policy meeting, and Chinese blue chips rose 0.5%.

“A lot of what’s been happening in markets is obviously overshadowed by the news around Ukraine and Russia in terms of negotiations, but the significant drivers are going to be the response from governments and central banks in terms of the policy settings,” said Kerry Craig, Sydney-based global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“The markets are going to focus on the broader implications of what's going to happen around energy prices, what that means for inflation across parts of the world,” he said.

Brent crude futures, on Tuesday rose 0.63% to $98.59 a barrel The benchmark touched a seven-year high of $105.79 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last week, though markets calmed as the US and allies discuss a co-ordinated release of crude stocks in a bid to mitigate any disruption of oil and gas supplies from Russia.

Currency markets were also fairly quiet on Tuesday, with the euro back at around $1.12 after tumbling as low as $1.11210 at one point on Monday.

Russia’s rouble steadied after plunging as much as 30% to a record 120 to the dollar after Western countries and their allies slapped Russia with new sanctions, but following action by Russia’s central bank it last traded at 102 to the dollar.

Benchmark 10-year US treasury yields were at 1.8629% gradually walking back a little ground from Monday’s tumble.

Spot gold was 0.3% lower at $1,902/oz, having risen as high as 1,973.96 last week.

Reuters

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