Mastercard Has Blocked All Russian Firms And Shares In Bitcoin Have Risen After Latest Sanctions on Russia

As western nations imposed wider sanctions on Russia, Mastercard said last night that it had blocked several financial institutions from its payment network.

The New York-based firm said it would continue to work with regulators in coming days, and pledged to contribute $2m for humanitarian relief for Ukraine.

Visa made a similar donation, and said in a statement that it was taking action to ensure compliance with sanctions.

Expectations are growing that Russia could turn to crypto currencies after being shut out of the Swift international payment system and with sanctions imposed on its banks.

Bitcoin, the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, has reversed declines in recent days and rose 4.4% to $43,460 this morning, after a 10% gain yesterday.

Asian shares were firmer after heavy selling across global stock markets in recent days.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.4% and the Australian stock market rose 0.7%.

Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said:

The markets are going to focus on the broader implications of what's gong to happen around energy prices, what that means for inflation across parts of the world.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, is trading just below $100 a barrel, at $99.92, up 2%, after touching a seven-year high of $105.799 last Thursday when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Gold, a traditional safe-haven investment, has eased to $1,907 an ounce.

The Russian rouble has stabilised after it plunged 30% to a record low of 120 per dollar on Monday.

The Russian central bank more than doubled its key interest rate to 20% and announced a slew of other measures to stem the decline.

This morning the rouble is down 0.3% to 94.85 per dollar, and is unchanged versus the euro at 106.02.

After European markets closed yesterday, Shell announced it would divest its Russian assets and end its alliance with Gazprom, following a move by BP the previous day to get rid of a 20% stake in Rosneft, which will cost it $25bn.

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