Sunday, August 14, 2022

Ukraine Update: Russia Says Evacuation Paths Open for Civilians

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(Bloomberg) — Russia agreed to open humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine for 12 hours to allow civilians to escape from several cities, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in an emailed statement, even as the U.S. warned that Russian forces were intensifying their bombardment of Kyiv. 

Russia is at risk of an “imminent” bond default, Fitch Ratings warned, citing the country’s economic isolation after a wave of sanctions, while Starbucks Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. joined the steady stream of companies suspending operations or pulling out of Russia.

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The U.S. and the U.K. announced import curbs on Russian oil, while Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order restricting trade in unspecified goods and raw materials. The invasion continues to jolt energy markets, while the ruble dropped on Wednesday as foreign-exchange trading resumed in Moscow after an extended break. 

Key Developments

Putin’s Endgame Starts to Look Like Reducing Ukraine to RubbleCoca-Cola, PayPal Join Exodus of Firms Halting Russia OperationsEU Eyes Russian Wealth Fund, Business Leaders for New SanctionsPutin Clings to Market Economy as Sanctions Wind Back the ClockU.S. and U.K. Ban Russia Oil Imports, Squeezing Putin on WarEurope on Wartime Mission to Ditch Russian Fossil Fuel

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All times CET

U.S. Congress Reaches Deal on Bill With Ukraine Aid (8:15 a.m)

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress struck a deal on a long-delayed $1.5 trillion spending bill that would provide $13.6 billion to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It would provide $6.5 billion for the Pentagon, including $3 billion to bolster U.S. troops in Europe and $3.5 billion to replace weapons given to Ukraine. The State Department would receive $4 billion including for refugee assistance, economic assistance to the region and foreign military financing.

Stocks Rise as Ruble Resumes Trading (8:13 a.m.)

U.S. and European equity futures rose Wednesday as traders took stock of risks from a surge in commodity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. European contracts added 2%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures made more modest gains. Crude climbed after the U.S. moved to ban imports of Russian fossil fuels. The U.K. will prohibit Russian barrels but spare natural gas and coal. West Texas Intermediate oil scaled $126 a barrel. Russia’s ruble dropped almost 8% as currency trading resumed in Moscow, though stock trading remains suspended.

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Vulnerable Civilians to Leave Ukrainian City, Official Says (7:23 a.m.) 

A humanitarian corridor out of Ukraine’s northeastern city of Sumy will be in operation for 12 hours on Wednesday, Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, the region’s governor, wrote on Telegram. The first column of 22 buses will take pregnant women, women with children, elderly and disabled persons, he said. Ukraine’s presidential office said Sumy is the only operating humanitarian corridor and that most of the evacuated so far are women, children and foreigners from India, China and Turkey.

U.K. Adds to Russia Sanctions With Aircraft Ban (7:00 a.m.)

The U.K. ratcheted up its sanctions against by banning all Russian aircraft from landing and overflying Britain, and prohibiting aviation and space-related exports. The aviation export ban covers technology and components as well as insurance and reinsurance products, the Foreign Office said Wednesday.

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Wheat Tumbles as Traders Weigh Supply (3:12 a.m.)

Wheat futures slumped by almost 5% as traders assessed the global supply outlook with war ravaging one of the world’s top grain-growing regions.

The war in Ukraine has effectively shut off more than a quarter of the world’s supply of a food staple used in everything from bread to cookies and noodles. Ukraine and Russia are also major suppliers of corn, barley and sunflower oil. 

Wheat Tumbles as Traders Weigh Supply With War Raging in Ukraine

Austin Discusses Defenses for NATO’s East (2:12 a.m.)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed how NATO members can strengthen the alliance’s eastern flank on separate calls with his U.K., French and Slovak counterparts, according to a Pentagon statement. 

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“The allies committed to closely coordinating security assistance in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as they defend themselves, their country and their people,” the statement said. Austin discussed Russia’s invasion with U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, and Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad.

Congress Puts Off Vote on Russia Oil Ban (1:15 a.m.)

A planned U.S. House vote on legislation banning the imports of Russian oil into the U.S. has been delayed even as President Joe Biden moved ahead with executive action amid growing political pressure to do so.

Democrats now expect to hold the vote Wednesday, bringing it to the floor alongside a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, a Democratic aide said. Squabbling between the two political parties emerged late Tuesday and slowed passage of the bipartisan bill. 

Pelosi Delays Vote on Banning Russian Crude Oil Imports

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