The worst case scenario - Russian invasion of Ukraine - is materializing. We try to analyze its consequences for the economy and financial markets
Oil price increases past $100 per barrel
Russia is a key player on the energy commodities market, especially important for Europe. Situation on the oil market proves it - oil prices jumped above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014. Russia is exporting around 5 million barrels of oil each day, around 5% of global demand. Around a half of that is exported to the European Union. If the West decides to cut Russia off the SWIFT settlements system, Russian exports to the European Union could be halted. In such a scenario oil prices could jump $20-30 per barrel. In our opinion, the war risk premium included in current oil barrel prices amounts to $15-20.
Europe is the main recipient of Russian oil. Source: Bloomberg, XTB Research
Gold and palladium rally
Conflict is the main driver of moves on the gold market. It is not the first time when gold proves to be a good store of value at times of geopolitical conflicts. Ounce of gold trades over 3% higher today, near $1,970, and just slightly over $100 below its all-time highs.
Russia is an important producer of palladium, an important metal for the automotive sector. Source: Bloomberg, XTB Research
Russia is a significant producer of palladium, which is a key metal in production of catalytic converters for the automotive sector. Palladium prices rallied almost 8% today.
Fear means sell-off on the market
Global stock markets are taking a hit not seen since 2020. However, panic is not as big as it was in early-2020. Uncertainty is the most important driver for global stock markets now as investors do not know what will come next. Correction on Nasdaq-100 futures deepened past 20% today. A big part of this drop, however, was caused by expectations of Fed tightening. DAX futures dropped around 15% since mid-January and trade near pre-pandemic highs.
DE30 trades to halt decline at pre-pandemic high. Source: xStation5
Business in Ukraine is in danger
It should not come as a surprise that Russian companies and companies with big exposure to Russia are the ones taking the biggest hit. Russian RTS dropped over 60% off the October 2021 high and briefly traded below 2020 lows! Polymetal International is a company worth mentioning - stock is plunging over 30% on London Stock Exchange as market fears sanctions will hit Anglo-Russian companies. Renault is also taking a hit as Russia is the second biggest market for the company. Banks with large exposure to Russia - UniCredit and Societe Generale - are also dropping hard.
Even higher inflation
From an economic point of view the situation is clear - military conflict will generate a new inflationary impulse. Prices of almost all commodities are trading higher, especially energy commodities. However, in case of commodity markets, a lot will depend on how conflict impacts logistics. Keep in mind that global logistics have not recovered from Covid-19 hit yet and now another negative factor is surfacing. According to the New York Fed index, global supply chains are the most tight on record.
Central bankers' headache
Covid-19 panic has been very short-lived, thanks to an enormous support offered by central banks. However, such an action is unlikely now. As conflict is inflationary and has a bigger impact on supply and logistics rather than demand, inflation becomes an even bigger problem for major central banks. On the other hand, quick tightening monetary policy would only magnify market turmoil. In our opinion, major central banks will continue with announced policy tightening. Risk of a 50 basis point rate hike by the Fed in March dropped but a 25 bp rate hike looks like a done deal.
A key question for global markets now is - how much will the conflict escalate? An answer to this question will be a key to calming the markets. Once it is answered, calculations of impact on sanctions and speculations over changes in economic policy will begin.