- Global markets were shaken on Thursday on the news that Russia has launched an attack on Ukraine.
- European stocks perceived to have exposure to Russia tumbled.
- Polymetal International plummeted nearly 38%, while Rolls-Royce shed 13%, Uniper 14% and Raiffeisen Bank 23%.
LONDON — European stocks sold off sharply on Thursday after Russia began an attack on Ukraine, tipping a longstanding diplomatic crisis into a military conflict.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed down more than 3%, reaching its lowest point since the start of 2022, with banks plunging over 8% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
Germany's DAX index was among the worst-performing major bourses in Europe, dropping 4%.
Russia launched an unprecedented invasion of its neighbor Ukraine on Thursday, with military assaults on several key Ukrainian cities including its capital, Kyiv.
The attack on Ukraine is taking place both on the ground and by air, with reports that Russian forces have breached the Kyiv region.
Starting about two hours before dawn on Thursday, explosions were felt in and around the cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
The explosions are ongoing, according to reports. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement that a "full-scale invasion" of his country was underway.
U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the attack. "The world will hold Russia accountable," he said in a statement before he held a late-night call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The European Union is set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss its response to the latest development.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks sank sharply with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down over 500 points, as investors sought the relative safety of government bonds. The yield on the U.S. 10-year note dropped more than 3 basis points to 1.939%. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Earnings on Thursday came from AB InBev, Axa, Bouygues, Safran, Saint-Gobain, Mercedes-Benz, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Anglo American, BAE systems, WPP, Rolls-Royce and Lloyds Banking Group.
There were few individual share price gains worth noting in Europe on Thursday morning, while stocks perceived by the market to have exposure to Russia tumbled. Polymetal International plummeted nearly 38%, while Rolls-Royce shed 13%, Uniper 14% and Raiffeisen Bank 23%.
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- CNBC's Ryan Browne and Christine Wilkie contributed to this market report.