Volumes in February were only slightly down from 2021 averages, but profits were relatively modest for most of the month until the escalation of conflict between Russia and Ukraine late in the month drove volatility. That movement accounted for the majority of monthly revenue for brokers. The rally in gold above the 1900 level produced the bulk of profitability for the month. But market gaps in several products over the final weekend of the month reversed gains that had been made over the prior week.
*Average Daily Volume represents the daily volume from ISRA customers for each day of the month divided by the average daily volume for the month. Each day is represented as a percent of the average.
** Average Daily B Book PnL represents the daily B Book PnL from ISRA customers for each day of the month divided by the average daily B Book PnL for the month. Each day is represented as a percent of the average.
Source: IS Risk Analytics Database. Past Performance is not necessarily indicative of future results
China has been in focus as potentially the country that could help sustain Russia’s economy in the face of the economic sanctions put on the country by most of the world’s largest economies. China has asserted its opposition to the sanctions, but also has not offered any direct relief to Russia. China will likely need to walk a fine line if it chooses to provide direct aid to Russia. In the event western nations find that the country or companies within China are actively working to subvert the effects of the sanctions, they could face scrutiny and potential sanctions of their own.
The effects of economic sanctions on Russia’s economy are the still to be fully realized, but they have already resulted in a plummeting ruble and the country’s long term debt rating moving to non-investment grade status. So far this year the ruble has lost a third of its value and economists are projecting inflation to hit 15% shortly. In an attempt to mitigate some of the effects of the sanctions, the Russian central bank moved its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% and told Russian companies to sell foreign currency.
The United States joined many of its allies in enacting severe sanctions on Russia and its oligarchs in response to the invasion of Ukraine. At this time, the sanctions do not reach Russia’s energy exports, but a bipartisan group of US lawmakers are pushing President Biden’s administration to end all imports of Russian oil to the United States. The administration has yet to act on the request as it remains unclear what the move’s impact would be on already surging gas prices. Approximately 3% of US crude imports came from Russia in 2021.