U.S. sanctions slam Russian ruble, Turkey's lira tumbles

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New U.S. sanctions against Moscow drove down Russia’s ruble, while worries that Turkey was sliding into a full-blown economic crisis battered the lira on Thursday, but global equity markets largely shrugged off the turmoil to edge higher.

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds new 200 and 2,000 rouble banknotes in a bank in Moscow, Russia November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

The Russian ruble slid 1 percent after Washington said it would impose fresh sanctions because it had determined that Moscow had used a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain, which the Kremlin denies.

The ruble slid to its lowest since late 2016, hitting 66.7099 rubles to the dollar, leaving it after a second day of declines more than 4 percent weaker than it had been late on Tuesday.

Turkey’s lira touched a record low against the dollar, weakening 4 percent in 24 hours after meetings in Washington looked to have made little progress in mending a row over Ankara’s jailing of an American pastor.

“Politics continues to wreak short-term havoc in global FX markets,” said Viraj Patel, a currency strategist at Dutch bank ING. “We’re questioning whether any currency is truly safe.”

MSCI’s all-country world stock index fell 0.22 percent after trading flat for most of the session.

European shares earlier in the session were lower but later pared most losses. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares closed up 0.02 percent, as did the blue-chip EURO STOXX 50.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index edged lower but remained about half a percentage point from breaching an all-time high that was set in January, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was about a quarter of a percent away from a record peak.

With the second-quarter U.S. earnings season mostly

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