What Moves Markets Through Investing.com

© By Geoffrey Smith Investing.com — Russian shelling sparks fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – but there are no reports of radiation leaks. The euro and European stock markets are collapsing at the prospect of existing sanctions loopholes being closed to strangle Russian commodity exports. Commodity prices, meanwhile, are on track for their biggest weekly rise since the 1960s, led overnight by advances in wheat and nickel. Oh, and the monthly US payroll report should keep the Federal Reserve on track for a 25 basis point rate hike later this month. Here’s what you need to know in the financial markets on Friday, March 4. 1. Russian troops seize Europe’s largest nuclear power plant Russian troops occupy the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, outside Zaporizhzhya in eastern Ukraine. A fire that broke out in a building away from the nuclear reactors was brought under control. There was no damage to the reactors. Fears of a possible radiation leak – fueled by popular memory of the Chernobyl disaster in northern Ukraine during the late Soviet period – have proved unfounded. The reactors are built completely differently and retrofitted with a huge containment vessel that protects it from most plausible scenarios. The Russian Defense Ministry blames the fire on a squadron of Ukrainian provocateurs. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Raphael Grossi, said the damage was caused by Russian weapons. The Lithuanian prime minister said the Russian shelling of the factory amounts to “nuclear terrorism”. Russia and China had voted against an IAEA resolution on Thursday to ensure the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. 2. Euro hits 22-month low on mounting fears of sanctions Its share price fell below $1.10 for the first time since May 2020, as the progress of Russia’s war in Ukraine increased the likelihood of tougher Western sanctions hitting the euro-zone economy will hit disproportionately hard. European stock markets also extended their decline, with the Italian on track for a 11% decline this week and the German on track for a 9.3% decline. An aide to French President Emmanuel Macron had informed reporters on Thursday that people should “fear the worst” after Russia’s Vladimir Putin reiterated in a telephone conversation with Macron his determination to continue the war until the end. The number of senior European politicians now willing to accept a complete ban on the purchase of Russian energy exports — which were originally exempt from last week’s sanctions packages — is increasing daily as the devastation in Ukraine’s cities multiplies. 3. Payrolls extend the US labor market recovery. The US economy is expected to add another 400,000 jobs in the month to mid-February, quickly replacing the jobs lost during the pandemic. The Labor Department publishes its at 8:30 AM ET. That would be a modest slowdown from 478,000 in January, but still an impressive feat given the disruption to retail, travel and hospitality from the wave of Omicron variant Covid-19. It would also boost Fed Funds rates when the Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee meets in two weeks. It is expected to have fallen from 4.2% to 3.9%, but analysts will also address developments with the workforce, which is still more than a full percentage point below its pre-pandemic level of 63.4% . 4. Stocks Opening Lower US stocks will open lower later amid negative news flow from Ukraine and Russia. The Russian State Duma previously passed a law that would punish the spread of “misleading” news about the war in Ukraine with up to 15 years in prison. By 6:20 AM ET (1120 GMT), 334 points, or 1.0%, were down on track for a third weekly loss in four. The contract also fell 1.0%, while the contract fell 0.9%. Stocks likely to be in the spotlight later on include software company Splunk (NASDAQ:), which received a confidence vote from Helman & Friedland in the form of a 7.5% stake purchase. Gap (NYSE:) stocks and Broadcom (NASDAQ:) stocks also rise in premarket after well-received quarterly updates late Thursday, as Costco (NASDAQ:) stock is discounted after warning of container delays, higher labor and freight costs, and chip shortages. all of which outweighed better-than-expected results in the fiscal second quarter. 5. Commodities heading for best week since 1960 Commodities remained on track for their biggest weekly gain since the 1960s, as the prospect of tougher sanctions on Russian exports continued to force buyers to look for alternatives. At 6:25 AM ET, futures were up 2.2% to $110.06 a barrel, while they rose 2.0% to $112.66 a barrel. While that’s well below the peaks seen earlier this week, it’s still a weekly gain of over 20%, the kind of gain that has historically led to demand destruction and an economic slowdown. prices also continued to rise, a day after an Estonian freighter sank in the Black Sea after hitting a mine. That virtually eliminated the chance that any ship would take out insurance for travel to and from Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea ports. The two countries account for nearly 30% of global wheat exports. Elsewhere, London hit $29,823 a tonne, its highest level since 2008, amid similar fears over the availability of Russian supply.

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