Markets

European Stocks Slide Nearly 2% on Russia-Ukraine Tensions

Vadim Savitsky | TASS | Getty Images
  • U.S. President Joe Biden's national security advisor Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday that the Kremlin has accelerated its extraordinary military buildup along the country's border over the past 10 days.
  • Global markets have been in turmoil since a surprisingly high U.S. inflation print last week, which prompted concerns that the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates faster than previously expected.

LONDON — European markets tumbled on Monday as investors continued to track tensions in Ukraine and remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve officials about the interest rate outlook.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down 1.8%, with banks slumping 3.2% to lead the losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.

Multiple countries have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion, with U.S. President Joe Biden's national security advisor Jake Sullivan warning on Sunday that the Kremlin has accelerated its extraordinary military buildup along the country's border over the past 10 days.

Western leaders have threatened severe sanctions against Russia in the event of any incursion into Ukraine, as leaders continue to pursue diplomatic solutions. The Kremlin has denied any intention to invade its neighbor, accusing Washington of stoking "hysteria."

Russian assets retreated sharply on Monday morning initially but pulled back much of their earlier losses by mid-afternoon. The MOEX Russia Index sank 1.8% while the RTS Index was off by 3%. The U.S. dollar reversed course against the Russian ruble and was down 0.5% by the close.

Global markets have been in turmoil since a surprisingly high U.S. inflation print last week, which prompted St. Louis Fed President James Bullard to call for a full percentage point of interest rate hikes before July.

However, fellow rate-setter and San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said on Sunday that the central bank should be measured in its path to monetary policy tightening, noting that "abrupt and aggressive action can actually have a destabilizing effect" on growth and price stability.

Earnings continue to drive individual share price action in Europe, with Capgemini, Michelin and BHP among those reporting before the bell on Monday.

Swiss chemicals company Clariant plunged 16% after delaying its 2021 earnings report amid an investigation into whistleblower allegations about its accounting practices.

Commerzbank shares fell 2.7% after German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told Handelsblatt newspaper that the government would shed its stake in the bank in the long run.

On Wall Street, U.S. shares moved mostly lower as traders assessed Fed's policy trajectory and Russia-Ukraine tensions.

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- CNBC's Ryan Browne contributed to this report

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