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McDonald's to close all 850 stores in Russia

People enter a McDonald's restaurant in Moscow - TATYANA MAKEYEVA /REUTERS 
People enter a McDonald's restaurant in Moscow - TATYANA MAKEYEVA /REUTERS

China is said to be considering a swoop on Russian energy and commodity giants such as Gazprom and Rusal as the US gears up to target Moscow’s energy sector with new sanctions.

Beijing is in talks with its state-owned firms – including China National Petroleum, Sinopoec and China Minmetals – over any opportunities to buy or increase stakes in Russian companies or assets, Bloomberg reports.

It comes as President Joe Biden has blocked imports of Russian oil and gas while the UK said it would phase them out by the end of 2022.

Oil prices rose 4pc to as high as $130 a barrel earlier in the day ahead of the announcements.

07:54 PM

Wrapping up

That's all from us on another eventful day, thank you for following! We shall see you tomorrow, but first have a look at the latest stories from our business reporters:

07:47 PM

PepsiCo weighs writing off value of Russian unit

PepsiCo is loooking at options for its Russian arm, including writing off its value, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The group, which introduced American cola to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is reluctant to close its operations in the country because tens of thousands of Russians depend on them for their livelihood and for essential products such as milk and baby formula, according to the paper.

Just as McDonald's, PepsiCo has been pressured to pause operations in Russia by several bodies, including New York state's pension fund.

07:30 PM

Spotify hit by technical issues

Spotify has said it is aware of problems with its service right now and was investigating the issue.

Downdetector has collected over 168,000 complaints from users of the service as of 6:49pm UK time, up from over 55,000 a few minutes earlier.

07:11 PM

Condé Nast suspends publishing operations in Russia

Vogue 100 Issue  - Tim Walker /Vogue,The Conde Nast Pub. Ltd
Vogue 100 Issue - Tim Walker /Vogue,The Conde Nast Pub. Ltd

Condé Nast is joining the growing list of companies dropping Russian operations.

The group publishes editions of Vogue, GQ, GQ Style, Glamour, AD and Tatler in the country.

Chief Roger Lynch commented: "With journalists and editorial teams around the world, it is paramount that we are able to produce our content without risk to our staff’s security and safety. Recently, the Russian government passed new censorship laws that now make it impossible for us to do so.

"I’m reminded in times like these that there is no greater mission than the one we have now – to continue serving our audiences with trusted information and compelling journalism."

06:53 PM

Unilever stops imports and exports to Russia but domestic production will continue

Unilever has suspended all imports and exports of products into and out of Russia but domestic production will continue.

The consumer goods giant said it will also stop all media and advertising spend. Chief Alan Jope said: “We will not invest any further capital into the country nor will we profit from our presence in Russia.

"We will continue to supply our everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country. We will keep this under close review."

06:36 PM

Apple to show weekly baseball games in first foray into live sports

Apple has announced its first foray into live sports with a deal to show weekly baseball games to viewers in eight countries including the UK. James Titcomb reports:

"Friday Night Baseball" will be available on the company's streaming service, Apple TV+, when the new baseball season begins in the coming weeks.

Apple will show two live games a week, as well as pre and post-game coverage, in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and South Korea.

The deal sees Apple join Amazon, which has rights for Premier League games, tennis and a host of other sports in Europe and the US, in taking on traditional broadcasters.

Apple has also unveiled a version of its low-cost iPhone, the SE, that features 5G, and an upgraded iPad Air with Apple's M1 chip.

06:17 PM

Which companies are still active in Russia?

While some major corporations have been swift in exiting their Russian operations, others are staying put. Here are some examples:

06:02 PM

McDonald's to stop trading in Russia

McDonald's has announced it is temporarily closing 850 restaurants in Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion, following similar moves from several other multinational brands.

The fast food chain had resisted to react until today and had met significant pressure to take action, including calls to boycott it on social media.

The group said it will continue paying the salaries of its 62,000 employees in Russia.

Chief Chris Kempczinski commented: "As we move forward, McDonald’s will continue to assess the situation and determine if any additional measures are required. At this juncture, it’s impossible to predict when we might be able to reopen our restaurants in Russia.

"We are experiencing disruptions to our supply chain along with other operational impacts."

05:44 PM

Venezuela to potentially benefit from Russian oil ban

The prospect that the US could ease sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil producer to offset Russia’s cutoff from global markets has observers wondering how much crude the South American nation is able to add to a market roiled by the war in Ukraine.

The most optimistic outlook from energy consultancy IPD Latin America sees production nearly doubling by year-end if exports from the South American country can flow freely and it’s able to import much-needed parts and equipment for its crumbling oil industry.

Skeptics, however, say it would take billions of dollars of investment over several years before Venezuela can increase output substantially.

05:26 PM

FTSE 100 closes flat

The FTSE 100 has ended a day of heavy fluctuation as volatility continues to hit markets. The Ukraine crisis comes just as uncertainty was rising owing to surging prices caused by a spike in demand for oil, tight supplies and pandemic-induced supply chain snarls, among other things.

Traders remain fearful of stagflation - a vicious mixture of low economic growth and elevated inflation.

London's leading index closed the session flat at 6,964 just before the UK and the US announced bans on Russian oil imports.

Market analyst Fawad Razaqzada at ThinkMarkets called it the "launch of an an all-out economic war against Russia" by the White House.

"There will be consequences: high gas prices, even more inflation and retaliation from Russia."

05:08 PM

How Europe can wean itself off Russian gas

Europe faces a painful path to wean itself off Russian gas. While analysts say the first few months can be managed with existing stockpiles, new solutions are needed for the long term.

Here are some of the options, writes Louis Ashworth.

04:48 PM

US joins UK in banning Russian oil imports

The US has also announced an embargo on Russian oil as both sides of the Atlantic step up efforts to hobble Russia’s economy.

President Joe Biden said: “We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy."

"We will not be part of subsidising Putin’s war."

The move is a significant step in his sanctions campaign against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. While so-called self-sanctioning by the oil industry has limited some purchases of Russian barrels, an outright US ban would further weigh on the market and increase volatility.

04:29 PM

UK to phase out Russian oil imports this year

The UK has announced it will phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.

The government will also work with companies through a new taskforce on oil to support them in finding alternative supplies.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that businesses will have "more than enough time" to replace Russian imports, which make up 8pc of UK demand.

04:18 PM

Germany won't extend life span of nuclear plants

Germany has said it won't extend the life span of its nuclear plants to help cut its reliance on Russian gas, but instead it will build up alternative energy sources at "Tesla speed".

Economy minister Robert Habeck said the country's first LNG terminal, announced last weekend, should be ready within two years.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany floated the idea of keeping nuclear plants as part of its energy mix to diversify away from Russia, which delivers most of Germany's natural gas. However, the economy and environment ministries have opted against this plan.

"As a result of weighing up the benefits and risks, an extension of the operating lives of the three remaining nuclear power plants is not recommended, also in view of the current gas crisis," the ministries said in a joint statement.

04:03 PM

Handing over

That's all from me for today – thanks for following! Handing over now to Giulia Bottaro.

03:58 PM

Germany: We're prepared if Russia cuts off gas

Germany has insisted it's prepared if Vladimir Putin decides to restrict gas supplies, but warned the impact would be felt across all industrial sectors.

Robert Habeck, Germany's economy minister, said: "If Putin cuts the exports to Europe and Germany, we are prepared.

"We will be able to deal with it – we have oil reserves for three months, and we can go with gas reserves through winter and summer."

Germany is more reliant on Russian oil and than many of its European neighbours. Western countries are scrambling to reduce their dependence on Moscow for energy, while the US and UK are poised to ban the import of Russian oil in their countries.

03:29 PM

Premier League suspends Russian broadcast deal

The Premier League has suspended its deal to show footfall matches in Russia.

The league said clubs had unanimously agreed to halt the agreement with media group Rambler, which shows games through its Okko Sport service. The deal is reported to be worth $8m (£6m) per year.

The company said it would donate £1m to the Disasters Emergency Committee to provide humanitarian aid to people in Ukraine.

It added: "The League strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those impacted."

03:24 PM

Boycott companies still in Russia, says Putin’s 'number one enemy'

Bill Browder Russia Ukraine - David Rose
Bill Browder Russia Ukraine - David Rose

Bill Browder, the British financier who once described himself as Vladimir Putin’s “number one enemy”, has called for a boycott of a host of Western companies still trading in Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

Simon Foy has more:

Mr Browder, a former hedge fund manager who was once Russia’s largest foreign investor before being deported from the country, named Coca-Cola and Unilever among the companies that should be boycotted.

He said these firms “need to withdraw as soon as possible”, adding: “If not, they should be boycotted in the West. Profits over national security is unacceptable.”

It comes after a raft of corporate giants severed ties with Russia in recent days, including the top City law firms and the big four accountants, KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PwC.

Research by Yale University found that around 200 Western corporations have either withdrawn or suspended business in Russia.

Read Simon's full story here

03:13 PM

Ukraine raises £174m in second war bond auction

Ukraine has raised 6.7bn hryvnia (£174m) in its second auction of war bonds.

The country's ministry of finance has been offering the bonds to investors to fund its armed forces and resistance to Russia's invasion.

Ukraine raised around £200m through its first auction earlier this month. The one-year bonds yield 11pc and have a nominal value of 1,000 hryvnia – or about £25.

03:06 PM

Oil prices edge even higher

Oil prices have climbed even higher amid reports the UK will join the US in blocking imports of Russian oil.

Benchmark Brent crude extended its gains to 7pc, topping $132 a barrel. It had climbed as high as $139 yesterday – its highest since 2008.

02:55 PM

UK to phase out Russian oil imports

The UK will reportedly phase out all imports of Russian oil as it ramps up sanctions against Vladimir Putin.

The move will be in concert with the US and the ban will be phased in over the coming months, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The ban is not set to apply to Russian gas.

02:35 PM

Wall Street stumbles as US prepares Russian oil ban

Wall Street's main indices have opened mixed as investors weigh up a looming ban on imports of Russian energy.

The S&P 500 was broadly flat, while the Dow Jones rose 0.2pc. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped 0.2pc.

02:27 PM

UK to outline plans on Russian oil imports today

Politico reports that the Government will outline its plans for reducing reliance on Russian oil and gas later today.

The EU has said it's aiming to reduce depends on energy from Moscow by two-thirds by the end of the year through a combination of new suppliers, a shift to renewable sources and energy efficiency.

02:24 PM

Petrol prices surge at fastest pace in 13 years

The impact of higher oil prices is already being felt by motorists at the pumps.

UK petrol prices rose at the fastest pace in almost 13 years last week as the war sent fuel to record highs.

New figures from the Government show the average price of a litre of petrol reached 152.95p. Last week's 2.5pc increase was the biggest jump since April 2009 and left prices 24pc higher than a year ago.

Surging pump prices are adding even more pressure on household budgets as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.

A report from the Resolution Foundation found inflation could top 8pc in the spring, meaning British families are facing the biggest drop in living standards since the mid-1970s.

Read more: Living standards face 'biggest fall since the 70s' as household incomes will drop 4pc

02:19 PM

Expert reaction: Europe must start rationing energy

The energy crisis in Europe has become so severe that rationing is now urgently needed.

That's according to Javier Blas, energy and commodities columnist at Bloomberg, who warns oil markets are in denial about how serious the problem has become.

He says: "We need very urgently energy conservation programs. Europe is extremely short of energy."

02:10 PM

Russia proposes to nationalise factories that shut operations

BMW Russia factory shutdown - Vitaly Nevar
BMW Russia factory shutdown - Vitaly Nevar

A top member of Russia’s ruling party has proposed nationalising foreign-owned factories that shut down operations in the country.

Several foreign companies including Toyota, Nike and Ikea have announced temporary shutdowns of stores and factories in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Andrei Turchak, secretary of the ruling party's general counsel, said that shutting operations was a “war” against the citizens of Russia.

He said: “United Russia proposes nationalising production plants of the companies that announce their exit and the closure of production in Russia during the special operation in Ukraine.

“This is an extreme measure, but we will not tolerate being stabbed in the back, and we will protect our people. This is a real war, not against Russia as a whole, but against our citizens.”

01:47 PM

Ban to send oil prices even higher

Russian oil accounted for about 3pc of all US oil imports last year, according to official figures.

Overall, imports of Russian oil and petroleum products represented about 8pc of the US total.

However, an outright US ban would further tighten the market and increase volatility, sending prices surging even higher.

The White House said only yesterday that no decision had yet been made.

“Those discussions are ongoing internally and also with our counterparts and partners in Europe and around the world,” said press secretary Jen Psaki.

01:39 PM

US set to ban Russian oil and gas

The White House is poised to announce a ban on US imports of Russian oil and gas as soon as today without the participation of its European allies, according to reports.

The ban will include Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal, according to two insiders quoted by Bloomberg.

It is understood the decision was made in consultation with European allies, which rely more heavily than the US on Russian energy.

The White House National Security Council declined to immediately comment on the report.

President Joe Biden is due to speak later today.

01:02 PM

Brussels plans ‘potentially massive’ fundraising for energy and defence

Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion wait for transit in Lviv - REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Refugees fleeing the Russian invasion wait for transit in Lviv - REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Here's some more on that huge EU debt package from my colleague Louis Ashworth:

The European Union has taken a significant step towards integration with plans to jointly issue bonds to raise funds for defence and energy.

The plans, which may be presented after an emergency summit of EU leaders in Versailles on Thursday, will be aimed at helping the bloc grapple with the shockwaves from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Details of the proposals, reported by Bloomberg, are scarce, with officials still determining how much money could be raised, but it could be on a “potentially massive scale”.

Paolo Gentiloni, the economy commissioner, told MEPs on Monday night: “We have to find new tools to address new issues this crisis raises in front of us.”

Officials said the plan was likely to involve the European Commission issuing bonds and then lending funds to member states to finance spending on defence and energy.

​Read Louis' full story here

12:47 PM

Shell to slash petrol and diesel output

Shell's decision to cut ties with Russian energy could put even more pressure on prices.

The company said it will be forced to slash production of fuels including petrol and diesel as it tries to find alternatives to Russian crude.

Shell, whose refinery in the Netherlands is the largest in Europe, said the reduction in output could last for several weeks.

Taking more supply out of the market threatens to drive prices even higher and put more pressure on household budgets as they tackle surging inflation.

12:40 PM

FTSE 100 swings back into the green

Time to check in on the FTSE 100 on a highly volatile day for markets.

After swinging between gains and losses, the blue-chip index seems to be firmly in the green now, notching up a rise of 0.7pc.

Shell is among the biggest drivers of the gains after it announced plans to cut ties with Moscow. Rival BP pushed higher as well as oil prices continue to rise.

Heavyweight banks HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds are also providing some momentum.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 is flying high with a rise of 1.2pc, while European stocks have staged a robust rebound from recent lows.

12:26 PM

US futures steady in volatile trading

Wall Street is set for a more positive start to the day following yesterday's sharp sell-off as the war in Ukraine and its impact on energy prices sparks volatility on markets.

The Nasdaq closed down 20.1pc from its November high yesterday, confirming the tech-heavy index has fallen into a so-called bear market.

The Dow Jones confirmed correction, meaning it was 10pc below its record closing level. Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P 500 index lost $1.08 trillion, according to analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Wall Street is set to open in the green this afternoon, with futures tracking the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq rising 0.4pc, 0.3pc and 0.1pc respectively.

12:09 PM

Chinese tycoon behind nickel short set to lose billions

A Chinese tycoon who built a massive short position in nickel is facing billions of dollars in losses after the metal surged more than 170pc in just two days.

Xiang Guangda, who controls the world’s largest nickel producer Tsingshan Holding Group, has closed out part of his company’s short position and is considering whether to exit the wager altogether, Bloomberg reports.

Nickel surged to a record high above $100,000 a tonne earlier today before trading was suspended, driven in part by Tsingshan and its brokers’ activity.

While the exact scale of Xiang’s losses is unclear, Tsingshan’s short position on the LME is reportedly in the region of 100,000 tons of nickel, people familiar with the matter said.

That means it would have suffered well over $2bn of daily losses at the most extreme point of nickel’s surge on Monday.

It's a sobering loss for Xian, who's known as “Big Shot” in Chinese commodity circles.

11:57 AM

China considers swoop on Russian energy giants

Gazprom Russia China state energy - Frederic Scheidemann/Getty Images
Gazprom Russia China state energy - Frederic Scheidemann/Getty Images

China is said to be considering a swoop on Russian energy and commodity giants such as Gazprom and Rusal as western sanctions cut the Kremlin off from the global financial system.

Beijing is in talks with its state-owned firms – including China National Petroleum, Sinopoec and China Minmetals – over any opportunities to buy or increase stakes in Russian companies or assets, Bloomberg reports.

Any deal is said to be aimed at bolstering China’s imports as it intensifies its focus on energy and food security, not as a show of support for Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

11:46 AM

BP to continue buying Russian oil and gas under current contracts

Meanwhile, Shell's arch-rival BP is taking a less severe approach.

The company said it will continue buying Russian oil and gas under its existing contracts, although it won't make any new deals for energy supplies from the country.

A spokesman said the only exception to this would be if the security of energy supply for its customers were threatened.

11:21 AM

Bank of England: Russia sanctions 'manageable' for UK finance

The Bank of England has offered some reassurance over the impact of Russia sanctions, saying they would be "manageable" for British insurers and the wider financial sector.

The UK is banning Russian companies from the accessing aviation and space insurance in London – the world's largest insurance market.

Some Russian banks have also been cut off from the Swift payment system, while the London Stock Exchange has suspended trading in more than 30 Russian companies.

Sam Woods, the Bank of England's deputy governor, told a House of Lords committee it was "quite a scramble" to implement the "powerful package" of sanctions.

But he added: "We looked very carefully at whether we think these are manageable in terms of any collateral damage or impact on the UK financial services sector, and so far we are comfortable that they are."

Read more on this story: Russian planes and rockets risk being grounded by Lloyd's of London ban

11:09 AM

Oil keeps rising as Shell cuts ties with Moscow

Oil prices have pushed higher after Shell announced it was halting purchases of all Russian oil and gas.

Benchmark Brent crude rose 4pc to more than $127 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate also gained. Both had hit their highest level since 2008 on Monday.

Shell's withdrawal from Russia – which followed a controversial decision to keep buying its oil last week – comes amid a wider boycott of the country's energy by traders.

The US is now considering a ban on oil imports from Russia, while EU nations are divided on the issue.

10:54 AM

IEA warns oil prices will surge further

The International Energy Agency is urging oil producers to bring extra supply to the market, warning the crisis in Ukraine will drive prices even higher.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told Bloomberg the agency had been “disappointed” in the response from oil producers so far and saw a “significant amount” of spare capacity that could be tapped.

He said the release of 60m barrels from stockpiles announced last week represented only 4pc of IEA members’ reserves, insisting they could release a “substantial amount” more if required.

The IEA will also propose ways for its members to reduce their oil demand amid growing strain on the market.

10:45 AM

Shell cuts ties with Russia

Shell's decision to snap up Russian oil at a discount didn't go down well last week, and it seems the company has taken heed.

The company said it will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil and will not renew term contracts. It will withdraw from all hydrocarbons, including crude, petrol products, gas and liquified natural gas in a phased manner.

In addition, Shell will also close its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in the country.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell, said:

We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel – despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking – was not the right one and we are sorry.

As we have already said, we will commit profits from the limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil we will process to a dedicated fund.

10:33 AM

Greggs drops as baker warns on rising costs

Greggs bakery cost inflation profit -  Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Greggs bakery cost inflation profit - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Let's check in on a bit of corporate news this morning.

Greggs has dropped as much as 11pc, slumping to the bottom of the FTSE 250, after it warned higher costs would dent profit in the year ahead.

The bakery chain delivered a sharp rise in revenue and swung back to a profit in 2021 as it benefited from the reopening of stores after lockdown.

But the outlook was far less rosy. Greggs said it would increase prices further in a bid to mitigate cost inflation, but that the pressures would likely prevent "material profit progression".

10:18 AM

Pound falls against euro on defence funding reports

Sterling lost ground against the euro this morning following reports the EU is considering issuing joint debt to fund its defence and energy sectors.

The pound fell 0.4pc to 83.17p. Against the dollar it was little changed at $1.3103.

The bloc is said to be preparing a huge sale of joint bonds to finance energy and defence spending as it looks to bolster its position in response to Russian aggression.

10:07 AM

Britain faces £2bn EU fine over import fraud

Britain will be forced to pay back billions of euros to EU member states after the bloc's top court upheld a ruling over import fraud failings.

The European Commission complained that importers into the UK evaded a large number of customs duties with false invoices and artificially low value declarations for Chinese textiles and footwear.

It estimated that the bloc lost €2.7bn (£2.2bn) from 2011 to 2017 and there were additional potential losses of VAT. All EU members were liable for such financial consequences, it said.

The Commission argued that Britain failed to heed warnings and put in place necessary controls to prevent undervalued goods from entering the single market.

The Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the ruling, but said the Commission would need to recalculate the losses to the EU budget.

09:54 AM

M&G jumps on £500m share buyback

Away from Ukraine, M&G is among the biggest risers on the FTSE 100 this morning.

The insurer and asset manager jumped 12pc after announcing plans to return £500m to shareholders through a share buyback programme.

It came as M&G reported net inflows into its funds for the first time since its demerger from Prudential in 2019. Clients added £2bn last year, beating forecasts of £1.5bn.

09:46 AM

Rouble swings on West’s split over oil ban

The rouble pared most of its gains after jumping as much as 25pc against the dollar as traders kept a close eye on EU disagreements over a Russian oil ban.

The Russian currency had been on track for its biggest one-day gain since September 1998 before easing back.

The offshore market is the only venue to trade the rouble after the Moscow Exchange temporarily halted trading across all markets.

The currency was last up 4.6pc at 132.9 against the dollar. It had jumped as high as 111.1 after closing at 138.9 on Monday, according to Bloomberg data.

09:36 AM

European stocks rebound on stimulus hopes

European stocks have rebounded strongly from one-year lows as investors bet on more stimulus to tackle soaring inflation and stalling economic growth.

The benchmark Stoxx 600 index was up 1.4pc, reversing three days of sharp declines, following reports the EU will issue new joint bonds to help finance energy and defence spending.

The index has been close to a bear market – where stocks drop 20pc below recent highs – as the war sparked a sharp sell-off.

But optimism returned this morning, with banking and insurance stocks leading gains. Germany's Dax and the French CAC 40 also rebounded.

09:27 AM

US fuel prices hit record high

British motorists aren't the only ones paying record prices for fuel – now the surge has spread to the US, too.

Average pump prices in the US are now $4.173 per gallon – the highest level in records going back to 2000, according to industry body the AAA.

Government data going back to 1990 shows prices have never been higher than they are now. In California, the most expensive US state for drivers, prices have surged to $5.444 a gallon.

The jump in forecourt prices poses a fresh challenge to President Joe Biden, whose attempts to curb inflation and tackle the cost-of-living crisis have had little success so far.

09:18 AM

EU to slash dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany - REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany - REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The EU has set out plans to cut its dependence on Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year as governments race to cut ties with the Kremlin’s energy sector.

Frans Timmermans, the EU’s green deal commissioner, said the bloc could ramp up imports of liquefied natural gas, speed up the shift to renewable energy sources and improve energy efficiency.

The plan would give the EU independence from Russia’s energy supplies well before 2030 – earlier than previous forecasts.

European gas prices have doubled since Russia invaded Ukraine less than two weeks ago, and Moscow’s threat to cut off supplies to the continent threatens to deepen the crisis even further.

09:14 AM

Evraz jumps amid surge in nickel prices

Nickel may be wreaking havoc on the London Metal Exchange, but it's good news for miners.

Russian steel producer Evraz, whose largest shareholder is Roman Abramovich, rose as much as 35pc – its biggest jump on record and third straight day of gains.

It's a much-needed boost for the company, whose shares have tumbled since Russia's invasion of Ukraine and is set to be kicked out of the FTSE 100.

Fellow Russian miner Polymetal rose 6pc, with gold rising to a 19-month high.

Elsewhere, French nickel producer Eramet rose 7pc, while European stainless steel manufacturers Aperam and Acerinox also gained.

08:58 AM

FTSE risers and fallers

After starting the day in the red, the FTSE 100 has now swung back into positive territory.

The blue-chip index gained 0.3pc, driven by gains for heavyweight banking and mining stocks.

HSBC, AstraZeneca, Lloyds and Glencore were among the biggest drivers of the increase, while Evraz jumped 25pc on higher commodity prices.

M&G was also one of the top risers, gaining 12pc following strong full-year results.

Shell was the biggest drag on the index, slipping 1.1pc despite higher oil prices, while Rio Tinto also lost ground.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 jumped 1.2pc, with miner Petropavlovsk gaining 22pc.

08:30 AM

Inside the West's battle to wean itself off Russian oil and gas

Gas Russia Ukraine energy - Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images
Gas Russia Ukraine energy - Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images

As US and European officials mull a ban on Russian oil and gas imports, investors fretting about a global supply crunch have sent prices rocketing.

Critics argue continuing to purchase the Kremlin’s energy exports means being complicit in funding Putin’s war on Ukraine, but a key question is whether Europe’s lights will be able to stay on next winter without Russia.

Governments are battling to figure out how to wean off Russian oil and gas, while keeping their citizens with enough electricity to fuel heaters, bedside lamps and electric cars.

Matt Oliver looks into the crisis.

Inside the West's battle to wean itself off Russian oil and gas

08:20 AM

London Metal Exchange suspends trading in nickel

The London Metal Exchange has suspended trading in nickel.

It comes after prices more than doubled to an unprecedented $100,000 a tonne amid a short squeeze on the exchange.

08:18 AM

EU mulls massive bond sale to fund energy and defence

The EU is said to be preparing for a huge joint bond issue designed to finance energy and defence spending as the bloc grapples with the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Officials are still working out the details on how the debt sales would work and how much money they intend to raise, but the plans could be unveiled later this week, Bloomberg reports.

It comes just a year after the EU launched a €1.8 trillion emergence package backed by joint debt to help member states navigate.

Now, the bloc is in need of major financing to reform its military and energy infrastructure in the face of Russian warmongering.

08:10 AM

Britain faces biggest squeeze on incomes since 1970s

UK households are facing the biggest fall in living standards for half a century as Russia's invasion of Ukraine deepens the cost of living crisis.

That's according to the Resolution Foundation, which said surging oil and gas prices triggered by the conflict could push inflation above 8pc this spring.

That would slash typical incomes by 4pc in real terms, or around £1,000 in the coming financial year.

The think tank wrote: "This is a scale of fall only previously seen around the recessions of the financial crisis, early 1980s and mid-1970s."

Read more: Living standards 'return to the 70s' as household incomes will drop 4pc

08:04 AM

FTSE 100 opens lower

The FTSE 100 has dropped at the open amid mounting fears that the Ukraine war could push global economies into recession.

The blue-chip index fell 0.5pc to 6,923 points.

08:01 AM

Nickel surges past $100,000 in blistering rally

The Ukraine war is driving up prices across a range of commodities, but it's nickel that's suffering the most extreme swings.

Nickel prices more than doubled this morning to briefly spike above $100,000 a tonne. That followed a 66pc rise yesterday.

The unprecedented surge in prices comes amid a short squeeze on the LME in which traders with substantial short positions have raced to cover their positions.

To give a sense of how rapidly nickel has jumped, the commodity has risen by about $11,000 a tonne over the last five years. This week alone, it's jumped by as much as $72,000.

07:54 AM

Oil prices keep rising

Oil prices have kept rising after the US moved a step closer to imposing a ban on Russian crude imports.

Key US politicians announced the outline of bipartisan legislation to bar oil imports into the country. That came after the White House said it was in "very active discussions" with allies about an embargo.

However, EU governments are split over the move, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday said he would not support a ban.

Still, many traders are opting to shun Russian barrels, keeping prices high. Brent crude rose 3.5pc to around $127 a barrel after hitting its highest since 2008 on Monday.

Moscow has warned western sanctions could drive oil to $300 a barrel. Most analysts dismiss this, however, saying a total ban would push prices as high as $200.

07:47 AM

Gas surges on Moscow's threat

Good morning.

It's the spectre that's been haunting energy markets for days, but now the threat has finally been made.

Russia's top energy official said the country could cut off gas flows to Europe through the existing Nord Stream pipeline – a move that would significantly dent the continent's supplies.

Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said the Kremlin had "every right" to do so in response to Germany's halting of the Nord Stream 2 gas link.

The move pushed European gas prices up by around a third, before they eased off slightly to gains of 18pc.

Gas markets have experienced some of the most volatile trading in history in recent days, with prices more than doubling since the invasion began.

5 things to start your day

1) Inside the West's battle to wean itself off Russian oil and gas Governments are scrambling for alternatives to Moscow’s supplies as prices keep rocketing

2) Food prices set to jump as cost crisis hits farmers Surging fertiliser prices will feed through to supermarket shelves, insider warns

3) Petrol suppliers race to ditch Russian fuel as prices hit record at the pump 13pc of British oil imports came from country in 2020

4) Rolls-Royce's plans for mini nuclear power stations take significant step forward Regulators to review small modular reactor design as Britain bids to end reliance on fossil fuels

5) Crispin Odey cashes in on soaring oil and gas prices but warns stagflation is on the way Hedge fund manager warns we are still in the 'early days' of energy crisis

What happened overnight

Asian markets mostly fell again on Tuesday as investors worry about the economic impact of the Ukraine war. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei and Manila were all down, though Jakarta eked out small gains.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: Capricorn Energy, ConvaTec Group, Direct Line, Dominos Pizza, Fresnillo, Greggs, IWG, M&G (full-year results); Ashtead Group (interims)

  • Economics: BRC retail sales (UK), GDP (EU), goods and services trade balance (US)