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Markets plunge as commodity prices soar

Markets plunge as commodity prices soar
  The value of the Russian ruble has stabilised somewhat after heavy falls

European markets slumped once again yesterday (March 3) as commodity prices soared and the London Stock Exchange suspended trading in companies with links to Russia.

The FTSE 100 lost 2.57 per cent, the Dax dropped 2.18 per cent and the Euro Stoxx 50 was down 2.06 per cent in trading yesterday. 

US markets fared slightly better, with the S&P 500 down 0.53 per cent, while the Nasdaq fell 1.56 per cent.

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Commodity prices have rocketed to their highest level since 2008, with the S&P GSCI index, a quasi barometer for the price of raw materials, jumping 18 per cent in the last week, according to data from Refinitiv.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted surges in commidity prices, with Brent crude oil now at $111 a barrel - its highest price in eight years.

Other commodities have also surged, with wheat now at a 14-year high of $1.34 a bushel.

This has led to concerns over the impact of business and consumers, who are already dealing with a squeeze in the cost of living.

Meanwhile the value of the ruble has stabilised somewhat in the past few days after heavy losses, and now sits at 73p. Its value sat at around £1 at the beginning of 2022.

Meanwhile, yesterday the London Stock Exchange suspended trading in 27 companies linked to Russia, as part of the sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. 

It comes after MSCI pulled Russian stocks from its indices, and a number of fund houses suspended vehicles exposed to Russian stocks.

Blackrock, Barings, Liontrust, Jupiter, Pictet and Abrdn have all suspended trading in funds exposed to Russia.

A spokesperson for Jupiter, which halted trading in its Emerging European Opportunities fund said the decision was based on the company's understanding of the geopolitical situation, and the sharp deterioration in its ability to transact, and to achieve fair valuation of the fund’s holdings, having closely monitored the market conditions throughout each day.

"We believe that this course of action is in the best interests of investors, whose investments we seek to protect in these difficult circumstances.”

sally.hickey@ft.com