Oil prices surge…World stocks drop
BANGKOK (AP) – Oil prices have surged nearly 5% and stock prices dropped after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered forces into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, bringing a long-feared invasion a step closer. U.S. futures also skidded after Wall Street was closed Monday for Presidents Day. Western powers have feared Russia might use skirmishes in Ukraine’s eastern regions as a pretext for an attack on the democracy, which has defied Moscow’s attempts to pull it back into its orbit. The U.S. and European Union condemned Russia and prepared to hit President Vladimir Putin’s administration and supporters with sanctions.
MADRID (AP) – Surging energy prices and fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are making European leaders think hard about energy security – especially their decades-old reliance on Moscow for natural gas. The crisis shows Europe’s vulnerability after years of limited progress in allowing affordable gas and electricity to flow across borders while diversifying suppliers and reaching climate goals. As renewables like solar and wind are slowly built up and coal and other fossil fuels are phased out, Europe needs natural gas. With gas reserves dropping and concerns a war could interrupt flows from Russia, the European Union is focused on getting liquefied natural gas from the U.S., Qatar and elsewhere until renewables catch up.
HONG KONG (AP) – HSBC PLC says 2021 profit more than tripled to $12.6 billion as the bank sold its retail business in France and expanded wealth management in Asia. The bank reports that profit rose despite a 2% decline in revenue to $49.6 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s pressure on commercial customers. HSBC says it expects “good business momentum” this year and mid-single-digit growth in lending but weaker performance in wealth management this quarter in Asia. HSBC sold its French retail business to American investment group Cerberus in June.
BERLIN (AP) – A closely watched survey shows that business confidence in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has picked up for the second month in a row – even though the Russia-Ukraine crisis casts a shadow over expectations. The Ifo institute says that its monthly confidence index increased to 98.9 points in February from 96 in January. Prior to that, it had fallen for six consecutive months. The index was lifted both by managers’ significantly rosier views both of their current situation and their outlook for the next six months. The Ifo survey is based on responses from about 9,000 companies in various business sectors.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Dubai’s main airport retains its top place as the world’s busiest for international travel, with around 29 million passengers shuttling through the global gateway last year. The 2021 passenger figures are encouraging for the tourism-driven economy of Dubai and a sign that intentional travel has picked up somewhat since the coronavirus pandemic spawned unprecedented global lockdowns and border closures in 2020. Last year’s figure represents a 12% increase in traffic at Dubai International Airport, compared to 2020.