Nord Stream 2 pipeline - AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Nord Stream 2 pipeline – AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

The Swiss-based company building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany has fired all 106 staff after being targeted US sanctions.

The German government moved to halt approval for the $11bn (£8.2bn) pipeline last week before President Joe Biden then directed his administration to impose sanctions on the operating company.

In a further blow, major backer Shell announced it would pull out of the project.

The Gazprom-owned company denied reports it had filed for bankruptcy.

06:46 PM

Wrapping up

That’s all from us today, thank you for reading – we will see you tomorrow. Before you go, have a look at the latest stories from our reporters:

06:34 PM

Grocery inflation hits 4.3pc amid supply chain pressures and Ukraine invasion

Grocery price inflation hit 4.3pc in February, according to data from Kantar, as it warned further pain was likely owing to the potential impact of the conflict in Ukraine. Hannah Boland reports:

Aside from a spike in prices at the start of the pandemic when supermarkets cut promotions to prevent stockpiling, February’s inflation rate is the fastest Kantar has recorded since September 2013.

Although prices for items grew, supermarket sales as a whole were down 3.7pc over the 12 weeks to February 20. Kantar said it had found more families were turning to own-label brands last month than they have since the start of December. Households spent on average £26.07 less at supermarkets in February.

Aldi and Lidl were the strongest performers in the period, both increasing sales by 3.3pc, as squeezed households hunted for bargains. Ocado was the only other supermarket to record a rise in sales during the period, as they edged up 0.2pc. Morrisons was the worst performer, recording an 8.2pc fall in sales, followed by the Co-op and Iceland, where sales fell 8pc and 7.9pc respectively. Asda recorded a 5.5pc fall, while Sainsbury’s posted a 4.1pc drop. At Waitrose, sales were 3.4pc lower and by 2.6pc at Tesco.

06:15 PM

European coal prices soar as sanctions on Russia bite

European coal surged to historic highs as sanctions against Russia tighten the global market, driving traders to look elsewhere for the commodity.

The sanctions have triggered intense concerns over the ability of European utilities to get their hands on coal from Russia, which supplies more to the region than any other country. Even with the continent’s coal stockpiles at a historic low, high natural gas prices mean it’s still more profitable to burn coal than gas to produce power.

Benchmark annual futures have jumped as much as 32pc to $200 a ton today, the highest since 2008. Month-ahead prices rose as much as 38pc to hit a record high of $322.50.

05:59 PM

BMW and Volkswagen to halt production as Ukraine war disrupts supplies

Volkswagen Wolfsburg - RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images

Volkswagen Wolfsburg – RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images

BMW has joined Volkswagen in warning of production outages because Russia’s war in Ukraine is disrupting car-parts supplies from the country, adding on manufacturers’ woes.

Companies were already facing significant parts bottlenecks and fallout from the pandemic, and some had been forced to curb production over the past year because of a chronic shortage of computer chips.

VW will idle some production lines in Wolfsburg, the world’s largest car plant, next week before a broader shutdown the following week.

BMW expects temporary shutdowns because of parts shortages, and will suspend vehicle exports as well as local assembly in Russia because of the invasion.

05:42 PM

Nvidia calls in authorities after hackers steal workers’ log-ins and leak them online

Nvidia, the US microchip giant, has alerted authorities after hackers stole employees’ login details and began leaking them online. James Titcomb has more:

The company confirmed it had been hit by a cyber attack, as The Telegraph revealed on Friday, but said it had “no evidence” linking the incident to Russia and Ukraine.

It has hired experts at the cyber security company Mandiant to investigate the hack.

“On February 23, 2022, Nvidia became aware of a cybersecurity incident which impacted IT resources. Shortly after discovering the incident, we further hardened our network, engaged cybersecurity incident response experts, and notified law enforcement,” the company said.

Read the full story here

05:27 PM

FTSE 100 closes in the red

The FTSE 100 has fallen as the worsening Ukraine crisis pushed shares of heavyweight banking and Russia-exposed miners lower, while Flutter Entertainment dropped on downbeat earnings.

The blue-chip index ended 1.7pc lower at 7,330, with HSBC , Prudential, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays among the biggest drags.

Yields on UK bonds – both longer and shorter-dated – dropped as investors sought safe investments.

Russia-exposed miners Polymetal and Evraz tumbled further, paving the way for the shares to drop out of the blue-chip index at this month’s quarterly review.

05:07 PM

EU countries mull ban on Russian ships

EU countries are considering a ban on Russian ships entering the bloc’s ports.

The aim is to tighten sea restrictions after a halt on air traffic, European officials say, a step that would further hamper Russia’s commercial shipments.

The UK already decided yesterday to deny entry to British ports to all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged.

With tighter global energy supplies, cutting off such shipments poses a challenge for Europe, which joined the US and other allies in imposing an array of sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.

04:50 PM

China shuns Russian coal over Western sanction fears as prices soar

China’s energy and industrial giants are steering clear of Russian coal over fears supplies will be caught up in the barrage of Western sanctions. Tom Rees writes:

Banks in China have warned firms that Western restrictions could cause “unexpected damage” to importers of Russian coal as they curb funding for commodities bought from the sanctions-battered country.

It came as prices for coal in Europe soared on fears that Russian supply will be disrupted, leaving few alternative sources of the fuel for many EU countries.

At least two of China’s biggest state-owned banks are cutting off financing for Russian commodities as lenders and traders mull the impact of the country’s ejection from the Swift global payments messaging system, according to Bloomberg.

Beijing has been reluctant to support Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine, abstaining from voting on a UN Security Council draft resolution telling Russia to stop the attack despite their close ties. China is Russia’s biggest coal export market, buying more than $7bn of the energy source last year.

04:32 PM

Hollywood giants pause releases of films in Russia

The list of companies dropping Russian operations is getting longer as major Hollywood entertainment companies are pausing the releases of new films.

Disney has put on hold the debut of the new Pixar movie “Turning Red”, which is making its debut in the US on the Disney+ streaming service next week.

WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T, said it would delay the introduction of “The Batman” a installment of the DC Comics franchise starring Robert Pattinson as the titular superhero, which is expected to be one of the year’s highest-grossing pictures.

Sony Pictures Entertainment said it paused planned theatrical releases in Russia, including that of “Morbius” a Spider-Man spin-off starring Jared Leto. Paramount Pictures will also delay the debuts of its films “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”.

04:04 PM

Handing over

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

03:52 PM

Russian miners set to crash out of FTSE 100

Roman Abramovich Evraz Polymetal International FTSE 100 -  Martin Meissner

Roman Abramovich Evraz Polymetal International FTSE 100 – Martin Meissner

Two Russian miners are likely to be relegated in the latest FTSE reshuffle as the war in Ukraine upends markets and sanctions take their toll.

Polymetal International has suffered a dramatic plunge in recent days, losing 75pc of its market value since the conflict broke out. Evraz, whose biggest shareholder is Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, has tumbled 55pc over the last five days.

The losses mean the two Russia-exposed firms are likely to drop down into the FTSE 250 when the rejig is confirmed tomorrow.

They’re likely to be replaced by Endeavour Mining, which has benefited from surging gold prices during the Ukraine crisis. Howden Joinery, a major winner from the housing boom, is also tipped to join the top-flight index.

Question marks remain over budget airline easyJet, though. It had been hotly tipped to join the FTSE 100 but has seen its path blown off course by omicron and airspace bans.

03:36 PM

IEA to release emergency oil stockpiles as prices surge

The US and other major consumer nations are said to have agreed to start a coordinated release of oil stockpiles after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove prices above $100.

The International Energy Agency, which represents countries including the US, UK, Germany and Japan, has agreed to deploy 60m barrels from stockpiles around the world, Bloomberg reports.

It would be the second release from US reserves in only a few months as President Joe Biden battles to keep a lid on surging prices.

Benchmark Brent crude jumped above $105 a barrel for the first time since 2014 last week as the outbreak of war sparked fears of supply disruption. West Texas Intermediate touched a seven-year high earlier today.

03:29 PM

Ukraine raises £200m through war bonds

Ukraine has raised 8.1bn hryvnia (£201m) through the sale of war bonds as it looks to drum up more funds to support its defence against Russia’s invasion.

The bond auctions is one of a number of crowdfunding efforts by Ukrainian authorities to raise money for both its armed forces and civilians. It’s also taken to social media to ask for cryptocurrency donations.

Ukraine’s finance ministry announced the sale of war bonds yesterday, saying: “In the time of military aggression of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Finance offers citizens, businesses and foreign investors to support the budget of Ukraine by investing in military government bonds.”

03:24 PM

New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq halt trading of Russian companies

The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq have halted trading of shares in Russia-based companies listed on their exchanges.

The halts were due to regulatory concerns as the exchanges seek more information following economic sanctions imposed on Russia, Reuters reports.

The Nasdaq-listed stocks halted are Russian Google rival Yandex, Amazon equivalent Ozon, payments services firm Qiwi and recruiter HeadHunter Nasdaq also halted video game maker Nexters, which is based in Cyprus.

Trading in Cian, Mechel and Mobile TeleSystems was suspended on the NYSE.

02:57 PM

British Gas to pull out of Russia

British Gas Centrica Gazprom gas - REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

British Gas Centrica Gazprom gas – REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The owner of British Gas has said it plans to exit its gas supply agreements with Russian companies, most notably Gazprom.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, said the company would do this “as a matter of urgency”. He added: “We are shocked by the events unfolding in Ukraine and the needless loss of lives.”

Centrica said it’s working through the details of how best to do this and will make sure it complies with all relevant sanctions.

It comes after oil giants BP and Shell both announced plans to withdraw from Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Vladimir Putin has rolled out a ban on foreign investors ditching Russian assets in a bid to halt an exodus in the wake of the crisis.

02:46 PM

Britain blocks Sberbank from sterling clearance

The UK has banned Russia’s largest lender Sberbank from correspondent banking and sterling clearance as it steps up sanctions after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Monday she would freeze the assets of all Russian banks, while bringing forward a legislation that would prevent them from clearing payments in sterling.

02:36 PM

US stocks open lower

Wall Street’s three main indices slipped at the opening bell as continued worries over Russia and Ukraine roil markets.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both fell 0.3pc, while the Dow Jones lost 0.2pc.

02:22 PM

Archegos ‘in talks’ with banks over settlement deal

Archegos Capital Management is said to be in talks with global banks to avoid a legal battle that would expose details of the deals that led to the family office’s meltdown last year.

The potential legal battle is focused on billions of dollars of swaps contracts agreed between the banks and Archegos at a time when the practice of block trading has come under regulatory scrutiny in the US, the Financial Times reports.

Archegos collapsed in March last year after its highly-leveraged stock bets went sour. The family office run by Bill Hwang defaulted on margin calls, triggering losses of up to $10bn that sent shockwaves through Wall Street.

02:12 PM

Sainsbury’s to close 200 in-store cafes

Sainsbury's cafe shopping retail - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Sainsbury’s cafe shopping retail – Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Sainsbury’s has said it will shut 200 cafes in a shake-up of its in-store dining that’s set to hit around 2,000 employees.

The supermarket chain also said it is launching consultations with an undisclosed number of staff regarding plans to close less popular hot food counters in 34 stores and changes to how it runs bakeries in 54 stores.

It is the latest in a raft of recent restructuring moves by the retailer as it seeks to keep a lid on rising costs.

Sainsbury’s told staff at its cafes that it is proposing to close 200 sites in the spring.

It said that workers affected by the closures will be prioritised for vacant roles in stores and will be encouraged to apply for jobs elsewhere in the business.

The remaining 67 in-store cafes will stay open while the company reviews changes to its dining operations.

02:04 PM

German inflation rises again in February

German inflation rose again in February as the war in Ukraine added to fears that prices will stay higher for longer.

Consumer prices rose by 5.1pc year on year last month, according to the latest official figures. That came after the pace slowed in January to 4.9pc.

The renewed rise dashes previous expectations that inflation would progressively ease after reaching a decades-high peak of 5.3pc in December.

Statistics body Destatis said the continued squeeze on prices was down to “Covid-19-related effects such as delivery bottlenecks”, while “energy product prices continue to have an impact”.

It added that long-running pressures had been “superimposed by uncertainties caused by the Russian attack on Ukraine”, which threatens to further increase the price for energy.

01:55 PM

Harley-Davidson suspends shipments to Russia

Vladimir Putin rides a Harley-Davidson Lehman Trike - Sergei Karpukhin

Vladimir Putin rides a Harley-Davidson Lehman Trike – Sergei Karpukhin

Harley-Davidson has become the latest company to halt business with Russia as western sanctions step up a gear.

The iconic motorbike brand said it’s suspended business and shipments of its bikes to the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

It comes after Jaguar Land Rover this morning said it was pausing deliveries of vehicles to Russia. General Motors and Daimler Truck have also done the same.

01:44 PM

War wipes £50bn off London’s Russia-exposed stocks

As the war in Ukraine escalates, companies with ties to Russia are increasingly feeling the heat.

The 19 London-listed firms with more than 5pc exposure to Russia have had £50bn wiped off their market valuation.

Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, points out that more than two-thirds of their value has evaporated since the start of the year. They now account for less than 1pc of all London stocks.

01:02 PM

Oil prices surge to fresh seven-year high

Oil prices kept soaring this morning as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spread fears of major disruptions to global supply.

West Texas Intermediate climbed as much as 6.1pc in New York trading to hit $101.53 a barrel – its highest since 2014.

Benchmark Brent crude jumped by more than $6 to above $104 a barrel. It reached its highest in seven years last week, at just shy of $106.

12:45 PM

British energy firm ready to start selling gas to Russia’s Gazprom

A British energy producer is to sell gas to an arm of Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom despite growing pressure on companies to cut ties to the Kremlin, writes Rachel Millard.

London-listed Independent Oil and Gas struck a deal in July to sell gas from its fields in the southern North Sea to Gazprom Marketing and Trading.

It comes as both Shell and BP said they would both sell out of their interests in Russia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

IOG said it would expect to find another buyer for its gas if the Gazprom subsidiary was hit with sanctions, the Financial Times first reported on Tuesday.

IOG was one of the companies which received investment from London Capital and Finance, the mini-bond seller which collapsed in 2019 owing about £237m to nearly 12,000 investors.

Read Rachel’s full story here

12:41 PM

Moscow to pump $10bn into Russian companies

Alongside the ban on foreign investors selling assets, Russia is also preparing to divert billions of dollars to prop up its own companies.

The country’s huge sovereign wealth fund will spend up to 1 trillion roubles ($10.3bn) to buy shares in Russian firms.

The Kremlin is desperately battling to mitigate the impact of sanctions, which have driven the rouble to a record low against the dollar and sparked economic chaos. The Moscow Exchange remains closed for a second day.

12:36 PM

Wall Street set to slide

Wall Street looks set to drop at the opening bell, with banking stocks suffering more losses as the Russia-Ukraine crisis deepens.

Citigroup fell 1.6pc in premarket trading to lead losses among the big banks as the war and ensuing sanctions continue to rattle markets.

Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Dow Jones fell 0.6pc, while the Nasdaq pointed 0.7pc lower.

12:32 PM

Jaguar Land Rover to pause sales to Russia

Jaguar Land Rover Russia

Jaguar Land Rover Russia

Jaguar Land Rover is halting deliveries to Russia due to “trading challenges” in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The British car maker, which is based in Coventry, said it was halting sales and would keep monitoring the situation. Last year it sold 6,900 vehicles in the country.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the decision, writing on Twitter: “There is now a rapidly growing number of companies and governments joining the whole international community in isolating Russia, both diplomatically and financially.”

12:25 PM

EU to block seven Russian banks from Swift

The EU is said to be discussing a ban of seven Russian banks from the Swift financial messaging system, including VTB and Bank Rossiya.

The other institutions targeted are Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank and VEB.RF, according to a draft list seen by Bloomberg.

The list is a subset of the banks already facing sanctions from the bloc and doesn’t include Sberbank – Russia’s biggest lender – or Gazprombank.

The final list would need to be agreed upon with other jurisdictions including the US.

Western nations agreed over the weekend to exclude some Russian banks from the Swift system, which underpins trillions of dollars worth of global transactions, amid wider sanctions against Moscow.

12:09 PM

‘Watch your tongue!’: Russia hits back at France’s ‘economic war’ threat

Russia’s top security official has hit back at France’s finance minister Bruno le Maire after he promised to wage an economic and financial war against Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president, wrote on Twitter: “Today, some French minister has said that they declared an economic war on Russia.

“Watch your tongue, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars quite often turned into real ones.”

Earlier today Le Maire told French radio that “we are going to deliver a total economic and financial war against Russia” over its invasion of Ukraine.

12:01 PM

FTSE 100 drops 1.4pc

The FTSE’s losses just keep deepening. Early gains have been completely reversed, and the blue-chip index is now down 1.4pc.

Polymetal International has once again posted a dramatic fall of 26.8pc. Fellow Russian miner Evraz has shed 14pc.

The biggest drag, though, is coming from oil giants BP and Shell, which have both announced plans to withdraw from Russia.

Gambling group Flutter is also down 14pc after the Ukraine crisis and unfavourable sports results dented its full-year figures.

11:34 AM

UK passes law to ban all Russian ships from ports

The Government has passed a new law banning all ships that have any connection to Russia from entering British ports.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said yesterday that he’d written to all ports asking them to refuse entry to ships that were Russian flagged, registered or controlled while ministers drew up new legislation.

In a tweet this morning, Mr Shapps wrote: “We’ve just become the first nation to pass a law involving a total ban of all ships with any Russian connection whatsoever from entering British ports.”

11:29 AM

Nord Stream 2 owner sacks staff as it weighs up insolvency

The company behind the scandal-hit Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is said to have sacked hundreds of workers amid reports it’s preparing for insolvency.

The US last week sanctioned Nord Stream 2 AG, which is registered in Switzerland and owned by Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning other entities will be blocked from doing business with it.

The company has completed the $11bn (£8.2bn) gas link, but Germany halted its approval due to the crisis. In a further blow, major backer Shell said it was pulling out of the project.

Nord Stream 2 AG has been working with a financial adviser on clearing some of its liabilities and could formally begin insolvency proceedings as soon as this week, Reuters reports.

The company is also terminating the contracts of workers. Switzerland’s Economy Minister Guy Parmelin told local radio that all Nord Stream staff – more than 140 employees – who worked in Zug had been fired.

11:08 AM

Bain and CVC abandon £6bn Boots takeover

Boots Bain Capital CVC takeover - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Boots Bain Capital CVC takeover – Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Private equity firms Bain Capital and CVC are said to have abandoned their pursuit of Boots in a move that could open the door to a takeover by Asda.

The consortium of suitors led by the two firms decided against submitting a formal offer last week despite months working on a potential deal, Sky News reports.

The decision is said to have been driven largely by the price expectations of owner Walgreen Boots Alliance.

It leaves just a handful of bidders – including Asda, Apollo Global Management and Sycamore Capital – with offers of more than £6bn reportedly tabled last week.

10:56 AM

Oil jumps back above $100

Oil has jumped back above $100 a barrel as markets struggle with huge uncertainty over the war in Ukraine.

Prices dipped in late trading yesterday as traders weighed up the impact of western sanctions as well as potential plans by the US and other major consumers to release 60m barrels from their stockpiles.

But benchmark Brent crude jumped around 4pc to over $101 as caution returned.

Louise Dickson, analyst at Rystad Energy, told Bloomberg:

The fragile situation in Ukraine and financial and energy sanctions against Russia will keep the energy crisis stoked and oil well above $100 per barrel in the near-term and even higher if the conflict escalates further.

10:22 AM

FTSE 100 drops 0.9pc

The FTSE 100’s rally has proved to be short-lived, with the blue-chip index quickly falling back into the red.

Shares had started on the front foot this morning as markets took a breather after Monday’s sell-off. But lingering worries over Ukraine, coupled with some disappointing corporate results, mean the FTSE is now trading down 0.9pc.

Russian miner Polymetal International has tumbled 17pc, continuing its run of heavy losses since the invasion started last week.

Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter dropped 14pc after the war and a string of unfavourable sporting results dented its profits. This also dragged down rival Entain by 5.8pc.

Shell and BP, which have both announced plans to withdraw from Russia, weighed heavily on the index.

Losses are being capped by commodity firms including Rio Tinto and Anglo American. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca pushed higher on a deal to develop an experimental heart drug.

The fall is even more severe for the FTSE 250, which is down 1.2pc. Publisher Reach and miner Petropavlovsk posted the biggest declines.

10:09 AM

Expert reaction: Promising signs for construction but Ukraine risks looms

Dave Atkinson at Lloyds Bank said the latest PMI data shows signs of further growth, but supply chains could start to feel the impact of the Ukraine crisis.

The sector continues to enjoy strong growth as it defies the drag of supply chain constraints and inflationary pressures.

There are also promising signs for further growth. The incoming corporation tax rise could stimulate growth as some firms choose to reinvest taxable profits into the business.

The aerospace subsector is also readying for a period of acceleration as the threat of Covid subsides and typical production cycles resume in line with growing passenger numbers.

However, the ripple effect from the situation in Ukraine on international supply chains is naturally creating concern. We should expect to see some stockpiling by companies with supply chains in the region as they seek to mitigate against the fluctuating currencies and raw material costs.

10:00 AM

Manufacturing growth picks up as supply troubles ease

Growth in the UK manufacturing sector gathered pace in February thanks to strong demand, fewer material shortages and easing supply troubles.

The IHS Markit PMI rose to a three-month high of 58 last month, up from 57.3 in January.

Faster growth of output, new orders and stocks of purchases all helped lift the gauge in February, offsetting the impact of slower job creation and a lessening of supply chain disruptions.

Although input price inflation remained elevated, the latest survey also signalled that cost increases were starting to moderate.

09:54 AM

Consumer borrowing falls back as inflation bites

Britons unexpectedly scaled back their borrowing in January, suggesting a mood of heightened caution as households brace for a cost-of-living crisis.

Borrowing using credit cards, personal loans and overdraft totalled around £600m during the month, according to Bank of England figures. That’s down from £800m in December and below the average in the second half of last year.

Mortgage approvals and lending rose more than forecast, suggesting the house market boom continued at the start of the year.

09:48 AM

Gas prices rise as traders weigh risk of Russia supply cuts

Natural gas prices have climbed again this morning amid concerns Russia could cut supplies to Europe after it was hit with sanctions.

Benchmark prices rose as much as 7.5pc in their second day of gains. The UK equivalent was up 6.3pc.

While Russian gas continues to flow interrupted to Europe, officials are preparing for the Kremlin to halt shipments in retaliation to sanctions.

Europe relies on Russia for about a third of its gas, with many shipments flowing through pipelines crossing Ukraine. Any disruptions could push prices even higher and deepen the ongoing energy crisis.

Read more: Ship carrying Russian gas to UK is diverted as Europe unites to weaken Kremlin stranglehold

09:38 AM

French energy giant Total refuses to pull out of Russia

BP and Shell have both announced they’re withdrawing from Russia, but it seems Total Energies won’t be following suit.

The French company said it will no longer provide capital for new projects in the country, but stopped short of divesting its assets.

It said: “TotalEnergies supports the scope and strength of the sanctions put in place by Europe and will implement them regardless of the consequences (currently being assessed) on its activities in Russia.

“TotalEnergies will no longer provide capital for new projects in Russia.”

In comes after Total held talks with the French government over its presence in Russia, with finance minister Bruno le Maire insisting it was a “question of principle”.

BP has announced it’s selling its 20pc stake in Kremlin-controlled Rosneft, while Shell is withdrawing from its joint ventures with Gazprom and cutting its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

09:26 AM

Mirror owner Reach drops 20pc as it warns on print inflation

Reach publisher Mirror Express - Leon Neal

Reach publisher Mirror Express – Leon Neal

Newspaper group Reach has plunged more than 20pc to the bottom of the FTSE 250 after it warned cost inflation in print would dent its profits in the year ahead.

The Mirror and Express publisher said higher newsprint prices had intensified since the end of the year, while energy and distribution costs had also risen.

The company said it was taking steps to mitigate the impact, but that it expected a “modest” reduction in operating profit.

Reach reported a 2.6pc rise in revenue to £615.8m in 2021, while pre-tax profit rose to £143.5m from £131.3m the previous year.

09:17 AM

Travis Perkins swings back to profit as house market booms

Builders’ merchant Travis Perkins swung back to a profit and posted a strong rise in sales last year thanks to the boom in house building and renovations.

The company posted sales of £4.6bn in 2021, up from £3.7bn a year earlier. Pre-tax profits reached £305.6m, compared to a £20.3m pre-tax loss in 2020.

Travis Perkins hailed a strong year following the restructuring of the business, though rising inflation and supply troubles took their toll.

Bosses warned inflation pressures would continue, but said the firm would benefit from refurbishments as more people worked from home, as well as continued strength in the house market.

During the year the company sold off its Wickes business, and later its plumbing and heating division for £325m, as it slims down its portfolio.

It still owns catalogue business Toolstation, which saw a 20pc jump in sales to £761m as it opened 70 new stores in the UK and 40 in Europe.

09:14 AM

Flutter shares drop as Ukraine and gambling laws weigh

Away from the Ukraine crisis, let’s take a look at some of the corporate news from the FTSE this morning….

Gambling group Flutter has slumped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 in early trading as the situation in Ukraine and safer gambling plans offset the positive outlook.

The owner of Paddy Power and Betfair said it had been “materially” reducing its online exposure in Russia, which accounted for £41m of revenue last year. Ukraine contributed £19m.

Gambling safety measures and unfavourable sporting results also took their toll on fourth-quarter performance. Shares dropped 10pc.

For the full year, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation excluding the US came in at £1.24bn – at the low end of expectations. Revenue of £6bn was in line with forecasts.

09:11 AM

EU set to block access to RT and Sputnik

The European Commission is seeking member states’ approval to block Kremlin-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik across the bloc regardless of how they’re distributed.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton said the measures would block operators from broadcasting, facilitating or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content.

This includes transmission or distribution via cable, satellite, IPTV, internet video sharing platforms or applications, whether new or pre-installed.

YouTube has already said it’s blocking access to channels controlled by RT and Sputnik across Europe, while Facebook has said it will restrict access.

Twitter said it will label tweets from Russian state media and reduce their visibility.

09:07 AM

Maersk suspends all container shipping to Russia

Maersk shipping Russia Ukraine - Mario Tama/Getty Images

Maersk shipping Russia Ukraine – Mario Tama/Getty Images

Shipping giant Maersk will suspend all container deliveries to and from Russia in response to western sanctions against the Kremlin.

The Danish company said: “As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings within ocean and inland to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended.”

The move, which covers all Russian ports, will not include foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies.

Maersk operates container shipping routes to St Petersburg and Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, and to Vladivostok and Vostochny on Russia’s east coast.

09:02 AM

FTSE risers and fallers

The FTSE 100 has started the day in the green as markets regained their footing after yesterday’s turmoil.

The blue-chip index rose as much as 0.5pc in early trading, before easing back to marginal gains.

Commodity-linked shares are the biggest upward momentum on the index, with Rio Tinto, Glencore, Anglo American and BP all pushing higher.

AstraZeneca also rose 2.5pc after it inked a $760m (£566m) deal with a Swiss biotech firm to develop an experimental heart drug.

Gambling giant Flutter and chemicals firm Croda were the biggest fallers, down 8pc and 5.3pc respectively after their full-year results disappointed investors.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 fell 0.2pc, with Mirror owner Reach tumbling 13.9pc after its results.

08:25 AM

Rouble pares heavy losses as Moscow Exchange remains closed

Russian rouble Moscow Exchange sanctions -  Anton Novoderezhkin

Russian rouble Moscow Exchange sanctions – Anton Novoderezhkin

The rouble has recovered some of its heavy losses but remained under pressure on foreign markets, while Russian shares were suspended for a second day as sanctions tear through the economy.

The Russian currency found some support after authorities ordered exporting companies – including energy giants such as Gazprom and Rosneft – to sell 80pc of their forex revenues on the market.

The rouble gained 3.3pc to 91.49 against the dollar in Moscow. In electronic trading it stood at 103, though this was comfortably above the all-time low of 120 hit on Monday.

Russia’s central bank doubled interest rates to 20pc and took other emergency measures after the war sparked market chaos, but western sanctions have limited its ability to intervene.

Meanwhile, authorities refused to reopen the Moscow Exchange for a second day amid fears of a huge market crash.

08:17 AM

EU braces for Russian retaliation over gas

The EU is gearing up for any disruptions of natural gas supplies amid concerns Moscow could halt shipments in retaliation for sanctions.

EU energy ministers held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss various supply-shock scenarios following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rollout of sanctions.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told reports: “Following the measures taken by the EU and the international community to sanction Russia, we can’t exclude that Russia will take retaliatory steps that will impact the energy trade.”

Europe relies on Russia for about a third of its gas. But Mr Simson said the EU would be able to “get through this winter safely” even if supplies were cut.

Britain has teamed up with European allies to help wean Germany off Russian gas – a move that would pave the way for sanctions against the Kremlin’s powerful energy industry.

Read more: Ship carrying Russian gas to UK is diverted as Europe unites to weaken Kremlin stranglehold

08:10 AM

Shell appoints new finance chief amid Russia exit

Shell has tapped Sinead Gorman as its new chief financial officer as the oil giant begins the costly process of withdrawing from Russia.

Ms Gorman, who is currently executive vice president for finance in Shell’s global upstream business, will replace Jessica Uhl.

Ms Uhl joined Shell in 2004 and was appointed finance director in 2017. The company said the relocation of its headquarters to the UK was “not sustainable” for her, and she will step down at the end of the month.

It comes after the oil giant said it was pulling out of Russia after decades and would stop working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

08:02 AM

FTSE 100 inches higher

The FTSE 100 has crept higher at the open as markets take a breather after Monday’s fierce sell-off.

The blue-chip index rose 0.2pc to 7,470 points.

07:57 AM

BP considers selling Rosneft stake back to company

BP is said to be considering selling its 20pc stake in Rosneft back to the Kremlin-controlled company at a huge discount after the invasion of Ukraine forced an exodus from Russian assets.

The FTSE 100 oil giant considers a deal with Rosneft the most realistic transactions because it would struggle to sell down its stake on the market or find a buyer, Bloomberg reports.

BP has already warned it could take a hit of up to $25bn (£18.7bn) from its decision to exit Russia.

Read more on this story: BP abandons stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft

07:48 AM

Bitcoin tops $44,000 as Russian rouble collapses

Russia Bitcoin cryptocurrency - Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Russia Bitcoin cryptocurrency – Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Bitcoin has surged in value in recent days in a sign the war in Ukraine is bolstering demand for cryptocurrency.

The largest cryptocurrency rose as much as 6pc to trade above $44,000, while other major digital coins also gained ground. It’s now dipped back to $43,300.

Bitcoin trading in the Russian rouble went into overdrive when the invasion began last Thursday with daily volumes rising 259pc from a day earlier to 1.3bn rouble (£9.2m), according to data from CryptoCompare.

The bullish run suggests traders might be turning to notoriously volatile but anonymous cryptocurrencies as a safe-haven asset as conflict wreaks havoc through markets.

The rouble plunged to a record low against the dollar yesterday, while Russia has banned citizens from transferring money abroad.

Ukraine has also been asking for donations in cryptocurrency to help fund its defence.

07:43 AM

Asian stocks hold up as market panic takes a breather

Asian stocks regained some composure overnight after a dramatic sell-off fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Markets have been in turmoil amid a wave of sanctions, which included cutting some banks off the Swift payments network and targeting Russia’s central bank.

Ceasefire talks between Moscow and Kyiv ended without any agreement on Monday, but Asian stocks stabilised on signs of no immediate escalation of sanctions.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index and the Shanghai Composite both closed 0.8pc higher. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.4pc and Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.5pc.

The Russian rouble regained some footing after crashing to an all-time low, while the safe-haven dollar resumed its rise against other major currencies.

07:36 AM

Mastercard and Visa crack down on payments

Good morning.

Mastercard has said it’s blocked “multiple” financial institutions after western nations slapped tough sanctions on Russia.

The credit card company didn’t say which institutions have been restrictions, but said it was working with regulators on the matter. Visa has also said it’s taking action to ensure compliance with sanctions.

It comes as Russia grapples with the financial fallout from sanctions. The rouble crashed to a record low against the dollar yesterday and authorities are fearing a run on banks.

Ukraine has called for Mastercard and Visa to block all transactions on debit and credit cards issued by Russian banks.

5 things to start your day

1) Ghosts of the 1990s haunt Putin as Russian economy descends into chaos The president came to power promising to restore order, but now he appears to be losing his grip on markets

2) Commuters hit by biggest rise in rail fares in almost a decade National rail fares are set to rise by 3.8pc, undermining the drive to get workers back to the office

3) Container lines move to halt sailings to Russia Singapore’s Ocean Network Express, a major operator, suspended bookings and rivals may follow suit

4) Putin forces Germany to rethink nuclear power shutdown Germany prepared to keep nuclear plants open in a turning point for its energy policy

5) Rouble plunges and interest rates double as Russian economy reels from sanctions Moscow closes its stock exchange after one of the worst wipe-outs in market history

What happened overnight

Asia enjoyed another broadly positive day, with Tokyo, Sydney, Taipei, Jakarta and Wellington more than 1pc up while Shanghai, Singapore and Manila were also up. Hong Kong was marginally lower.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: Abrdn, Croda International, Flutter Entertainment, Intertek Group, Man Group, Reach, Travis Perkins, XP Power (full-year results); Rotork (trading update)

  • Economics: Manufacturing PMI (UK, US, EU, China), retail sales (Ger), consumer price index (Ger)

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