Russia-Ukraine crisis in focus as West imposes sanctions

European stocks on Friday are set to open higher, tracking gains in Asia as market participants assessed the impact of Western sanctions against Russia after the Kremlin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

The UK’s FTSE 100 index was seen up around 83 points at 7,296, France’s CAC 40 index was poised to open 137 points higher at 6,647, while Germany’s DAX index was last seen up 285 points higher at 14,332, according to IG.

Russia on Thursday launched an attack on Ukraine via land, air and sea, prompting fears of a devastating humanitarian crisis and sending shockwaves through financial markets.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the capital of Kyiv was hit with “horrific” Russian rocket strikes early Friday morning, with several reports of explosions being heard around the city. The crisis in Ukraine is changing rapidly and specific reports from the country are difficult to confirm.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement that at least 137 people have been killed and 316 have been injured during the invasion. Zelenskyy, who has remained in Kyiv, later warned of “enemy sabotage groups” entering the capital.

US and Western allies have condemned Russia’s assault, coordinating a squeeze on Moscow by implementing a sanctions package designed to limit international trade with Russia and target banks and oligarchs.

Ukraine’s Kuleba angrily called on even tougher international measures to deter Russia, specifically blocking Moscow from Swift, a payments system through which it receives foreign currency.

Global stocks on Thursday sold off sharply on news of the attack, although US stocks embarked on a stunning recovery to end the session in positive territory.

In Asia-Pacific, shares mostly rose on Friday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up almost 2%.

Elsewhere, in South Korea, the Kospi rose 1% and the S & P / ASX 200 in Australia edged up 0.1%.

The Shanghai composite in mainland China added 0.54%, and the Shenzhen component jumped 1.08%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.14%.

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