European shares fell on Thursday. The FTSE 100 is down 3.3% in London, while the French CAC 40 is down 4.1% and the German DAX 30 is down 4.5%. Russian stocks collapsed, with the country’s main index down 45% before recovering from some losses.
US stocks fell sharply at the open. The Nasdaq Composite is down 3.3%, pushing the index into bear market territory. The Dow sank 2.5%, or over 830 points. The S&P 500 fell 2.6%.
The pain spread beyond the arrows. The Russian ruble briefly fell about 10% to a record low of 90 against the US dollar.
A large-scale attack by Russian forces targeted military infrastructure throughout Ukraine as well as several airports. The offensive began hours before dawn and spread rapidly into central and eastern Ukraine as Russian forces attacked from three sides. Putin warned of bloodshed unless Ukrainian forces lay down their arms.
“The world is shocked that Russia is launching a major military attack on Ukraine,” analysts at ING wrote Thursday in a research note. They added that “financial markets are witnessing an expected flight to safety and may have to endure slower growth due to the additional rise in energy prices.”
Investors will be watching the West’s response to Russian aggression, which will likely include sanctions.
“The question then will be which Russian financial institutions are targeted for severe financial sanctions,” ING analysts said.
– Matt Egan contributed reporting.
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