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Russian stocks ETF falls 25% as crisis in Ukraine continues

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, Feb. 25, 2022.

Source: NYSE

The VanEck Russia ETF fell 25% in premarket trading Monday as the conflict in Ukraine generated new US sanctions against Russia.

On Monday, the Biden administration announced additional sanctions against Russia’s central bank that would effectively prohibit Americans from doing business with the bank and freezes assets within the US.

The RSX fund is designed to track MVIS Russia Index, which includes the largest and most liquid companies in Russia. It also includes non-local companies incorporated outside Russia that generate at least 50% of their revenue in Russia.

The sharp decline follows two rocky trading sessions in which the fund’s shares struggled to rebound from another big drop Thursday, the first day of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

The broader US stock market was also lower in early trading Monday. The Russian stock market remains closed and has yet to announce what its operating hours Tuesday will be.

Ukraine’s armed forces have continued to hold off Russian troops and retain control of key cities. On Monday, officials from Russia and Ukraine gathered at the Belarusian border to discuss a potential end to the fighting between the two sides.

That follows a move over the weekend by the European Union, UK, US and Canada, all of which pledged to remove selected Russian banks from SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The payments system connects more than 11,000 banks and financial institutions worldwide, meaning the removal of Russian banks from SWIFT would sever them from most of the global financial system.

At the same time, the Russian central bank has hiked its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5%, in an effort to boost the sinking ruble. It also said it will free 733 billion rubles, or $ 8.78 billion, in local bank reserves to boost liquidity.

The ruble had tumbled by about 30% against the dollar after President Joe Biden announced new rounds of sanctions on Russian banks and its sovereign debt, as well as President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It most recently was down more than 15%.

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