Asian stocks topple after Ukrainians put nuclear complex on fire

Asian stocks topple after Ukrainians put nuclear complex on fire

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On Friday, Asian stocks and the euro fell as news of a fire near a Ukrainian nuclear site caused by fighting with Russian soldiers heightened investor concerns about the expanding conflict and drove up oil prices.

Markets across the region were pummelling by risk-off sentiment, with European bourses set for a dismal start, with Euro Stoxx 50 futures down 2.6 percent, German DAX futures down 2.6 percent, and FTSE futures down 1.4 percent.

During severe battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces, a fire broke out in an instructional building near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is Europe’s largest of its sort.

While this has helped to alleviate some of the initial fear that gripped the markets earlier in the day, investors remain wary of the violence.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index fell as much as 1.6 percent to 585.5, the lowest level ever.

Japan’s stock market fell 2.5 percent, South Korea’s down 1.1 percent, China’s fell 0.8 percent, and Hong Kong’s fell 2.5 percent, while commodities-heavy Australia fell 0.6 percent. S& P 500 futures were down 0.3 percent, while Nasdaq futures were down 0.41 percent, paring early losses.

Brent crude futures for May surged as high as $114.23 per barrel before closing 0.5 percent higher at $111. On Thursday, the contract dropped 2.2 percent.

On Friday, gold prices increased as well, aiming for their highest weekly rise since May 2021. Gold futures rose 0.1 percent to $1,936.9.

The euro continued to lose ground in currency markets, and it was on track to have its worst week ever.

The drop in oil prices occurred following reports that discussions between Iran and world powers to resuscitate the 2015 nuclear deal were making rapid progress.

The West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude benchmark in the United States fell $2.93, or 2.7 percent, to $107.67 per barrel.

As the US and other governments tightened sanctions, French officials confiscated four cargo ships and one luxury boat tied to oligarchs.

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