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Asia markets sink with US futures as Russia strikes

blast off

Ukraine is reporting a "full-scale" invasion by Russia, sending crude oil and gold prices to fresh highs and driving the S&P/ASX 200 to its lowest level for the month of February and the biggest one-day decline since late January.

The ASX 200 closed down 3% at 6990.60. Broad based selling across all sectors was seen, with materials and information technology sectors suffering the most. US futures are sinking and markets across the APAC region are falling.

Rio Tinto shares dropped more than 3% by the close after the mining giant delivered record financial results on Wednesday, with net profit more than doubling to $US21.09bn ($29bn) for 2021, from the prior year’s $US9.77bn, as commodity prices rebounded. It declared a dividend record payout of $US10.40 a share, including a final dividend of $US4.17 a share, and another US62c-a-share special dividend.

Qantas fell by as much as 5% after the airline said revenue rose 31.9 per cent to $3.07 billion however it still reported a net loss of $456 million, an improvement on the $1.06 billion loss a year ago. Underlying loss after tax was $1.28 billion, beating consensus forecasts for a $1.36 billion loss. Qantas said its flying operations were severely impacted by widespread domestic lockdowns and continued international restrictions, reducing the group’s total flying to 18 per cent of pre-COVID levels during the half. It said forward demand through February was improving.

Bloomberg is reporting Brent oil will average $US110 a barrel next quarter and West Texas Intermediate $US107, according to JPMorgan analysts. That represents an increase of $22 compared with the bank’s prior estimates for both grades. Brent has traded beyond $US100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. While tensions in Eastern Europe have fired prices higher, traders also see global oil stockpiles reducing as demand outpaces supply. 

The Aussie dollar has weakened late in the day from US72.07c to US71.91c against the US dollar.

Bitcoin is lower at $US34,885 from $US36,795.

Gold is up, $US1939 an ounce against $US1913 earlier.

Brent crude oil went above $US100 a barrel and is sitting around $US100.90.

WTI crude oil is up at $US98.15 a barrel compared with $US94.58 a barrel earlier in the day.


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