Finance The top five things that happened in markets this week

The top five things that happened in markets this week

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US stockmarkets plunged after Russian President Putin ordered troops into two self-proclaimed separatist republics Russia backs in eastern Ukraine.

The Australian sharemarket followed Wall Street lower, falling to a two-week low, despite the local reporting season continuing to provide positive surprises.

Here is a review of the top five things that happened in markets this week:

1. Russian/Ukraine conflict

Russian President Putin recognised and ordered troops into the self-proclaimed separatist republics that Russia backs in eastern Ukraine.

NATO allies fear the occupation of the Donbas is the springboard for a full invasion of Ukraine.

2. ASX200 earnings season rolls on

A total 63 ASX200 companies reported earnings this week, featuring a record-breaking profit from mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO).

Buoyant commodity prices helped Rio record $US21.4 billion ($29.6 billion) in underlying earnings enabling it to pay shareholders a $US4.79 combined final and special dividend.

Its total dividend payout increased 87 per cent year-on-year to US$10.40.

3. Gold new highs

Fresh cycle highs for gold this week trading above $US1914, as investors increasingly turn to the yellow metal for its traditional roles as a hedge against inflation, equity market volatility, and geopolitical tensions.

4. Crude oil eyes $100

US sanctions against Russia will likely support prices of essential commodities, including natural gas and crude oil which looks well placed for a push towards $100 per barrel, heaping more pain on motorists via higher petrol prices.

5. RBNZ delivers a hawkish rate rise

The RBNZ as expected, raised the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 1 per cent and reiterated that further hikes would be necessary.

The accompanying statement provided several hawkish surprises, including the RBNZ pulling forward expected rate hikes and increasing its OCR peak forecast by 75 basis points, from 2.6 per cent to 3.35 per cent.

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