Putin orders “peacekeeping forces” into separatist areas of Ukraine. Covid deaths among Hong Kong’s elderly are expected to spiral. Tencent denies it’s facing a fresh crackdown. What you need to know today.
President Vladimir Putin announced he’s recognizing two self-proclaimed separatist republics in eastern Ukraine, in a dramatic escalation in Russia’s standoff with the West. The Russian president signed aid and cooperation pacts with separatist leaders at a Kremlin ceremony after a televised address in which he stated:
“I consider it necessary to take the long-overdue decision to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”
Fears that Russia could soon invade Ukraine were heightened in the early hours of Tuesday after the state-run Tass news service reported Putin had ordered the Defense Ministry to send “peacekeeping forces” to the breakaway regions. Get all the latest updates on the Ukraine crisis here.
Stocks look set to continue sliding Tuesday on intensifying tension between the West and Russia. Equity futures for Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong slid following a retreat in European shares, while havens including Australian and New Zealand bonds, the yen, and the Swiss franc rose.
Oil surged as traders weighed the risk of disruptions to supplies of energy and other commodities if the situation escalates. Gold was near $1,906 an ounce.
Tencent denied online speculation that it’s facing a major regulatory crackdown, issuing an unusually aggressive public response after fears of more tech-sector restrictions tanked markets on Monday.
Tencent’s head of public relations disputed a widely circulated post that suggested the company would weather another heavy blow from regulators in the near future.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities told the nation’s biggest state-owned firms and banks to start a fresh round of checks on their financial exposure and other links to Ant Group, renewing scrutiny of billionaire Jack Ma’s financial empire, according to people familiar with the matter. Get the full story here.
Deaths in Hong Kong’s worst-ever Covid-19 outbreak are forecast to spiral, with experts predicting a wave of fatalities among the city’s under-inoculated and vaccine-hesitant elderly population.
Only 43% of seniors who are 80 or over have received even one dose. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s government is expected to unveil a budget that’s headed further into the red as the surging virus threatens to engulf the economy. Relief measures for the city’s weary population could come in the form of consumption vouchers or tax rebates.
The cargo ship that caught fire last week carrying about 4,000 Volkswagen vehicles could cost the automaker at least $155 million, according to one consultant’s estimate.
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VW had Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Bentley, and Lamborghini models on the vessel, which caught fire off the coast of Portugal. A salvage team is on-site and tugs carrying firefighting equipment were due to begin spraying the drifting vessel in an attempt to cool it down.
China’s stock and credit markets are in a serious funk and that has plenty to do with local characteristics. It’s also a concern for global markets, one that is being masked to some extent as Ukraine tensions whiplash markets that had been heavily positioned to cope with the Federal Reserve’s plans to tighten policy.
The lack of divergence now seen between the U.S. and Chinese equities is at odds with the countries’ central bank policy split. The People’s Bank of China is easing as the Fed tightens, but stocks in the Asian nation are being pummeled by the fallout from government actions.
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Property developers remain under pressure after being pushed to tidy up their heavily indebted businesses, while tech giants and another key, large firms such as Jack Ma’s Ant Group have been facing a variety of probes and prods. Source: Bloomberg