Russia-Ukraine volatility persists; Stoxx 600 up 3%

LONDON — European markets were sharply higher on Wednesday as investors continued to monitor surging commodity prices and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 jumped 3.5% by late morning, with travel and leisure stocks adding 5.4% to lead gains as almost all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory. Oil and gas stocks fell 1.5%.

Stocks across Europe fluctuated on Tuesday before closing slightly lower, as U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will ban imports of Russian oil, marking a major escalation in the international response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move risks exacerbating existing price surges on supply concerns and expectations of stronger growth, and crude oil prices bounced once again following Biden’s announcement before moderating on Wednesday.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leading losses among major indexes.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street later in the day after another choppy trading session on Tuesday saw all major averages close deeper into correction territory.

European investors are also looking ahead to the European Central Bank’s monetary policy meeting on Thursday for signals as to how policymakers are approaching inflation and the fresh challenges posed by the conflict in Ukraine.

Corporate earnings continued to roll in across Europe, with Vivendi, Adidas, Continental, Deutsche Post, L&G and Prudential among the big names reporting on Wednesday.

Adidas shares jumped 10% after the German sportswear company’s earnings, while Deutsche Post DHL added 9%

At the top of the Stoxx 600, Polymetal International shares surged more than 44% after the Anglo-Russian miner announced that all of its operations in Russia and Kazakhstan have continued undisrupted, while asserting that targeted sanctions against it are unlikely.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, Belgian automobile distribution company D’Ieteren Group fell more than 10% after its full-year earnings report.

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