By Steve Goldstein
Russian stocks crashed and the ruble sank to its lowest level in more than a year, as investors feared the triggering of sanctions if the country invades Ukraine.
The Russian RTS /zigman2/quotes/210597950/delayed RU:RTS -5.83% index lost 9%, with aluminum giant Rusal losing 8% and gas producer Gazprom dropping 8%.
The VanEck Russia ETF /zigman2/quotes/200464876/composite RSX 0.00% slumped 7% in premarket action.
The ruble /zigman2/quotes/210561610/realtime/sampled RUBUSD +1.0549% fell more than 1.5% to its lowest level in more than a year.
The U.S. State Department over the weekend ordered the families of U.S. personnel to leave Ukraine .
“With both the US and UK withdrawing some embassy staff from Kiev, there is a real threat of an imminent Russian invasion,” said Raffi Boyadjian, lead investment analyst at XM.
The U.S. has threatened heavy sanctions if Russia invades neighboring Ukraine. NATO is putting extra forces on standby and sending ships and jets to Eastern Europe.
The NATO action comes despite divisions between U.S. and Germany over how to proceed, with Europe’s largest economy reluctant to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a bargaining chip. That pipeline is complete but hasn’t yet shipped gas.