Stocks, Futures Fall as Bonds Rise on Ukraine Risk: Markets Wrap

Stocks fell Thursday on growing geopolitical tension after the Kremlin said separatists in eastern Ukraine asked President Vladimir Putin for help, a step that could lead to Russian troop deployments.

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An Asia-Pacific equity gauge fell to the lowest level this month amid declines in Japan, Hong Kong and China. U.S. futures retreated following a technology slide Wednesday that pushed the S&P 500 further into a correction. Treasuries, the dollar, gold and crude oil all gained.

The Kremlin said separatist leaders from two self-declared republics sought help to repel Ukrainian forces. Putin has said he doesn’t yet intend to send what he called “peacekeepers” to eastern Ukraine, but would do so “as necessary.” Russia has rejected U.S. warnings that it plans to invade Ukraine.

Western powers have expanded sanctions to deter Russian aggression after the nation massed troops around its neighbor. The latest U.S. step was to target the builder of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany.

The advance in Treasuries pared losses from the Wall Street session. Haven demand for bonds has been tempered by worries that commodity flows will be disrupted by the Ukraine crisis, stoking already high inflation and forcing central banks to step up monetary tightening.

Oil pushed higher as traders weighed possible risks to Russian energy exports against the potential release of some strategic reserves to restrain prices.

The cost of everything from oil to grains to metals has jumped because of the standoff in eastern Europe. That’s helped to lift a gauge of agricultural commodities to a record high, heralding fresh challenges for a global recovery that was already struggling with elevated price pressures.

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