The Wall Street Journal: U.S. sanctions take heavy toll on Russian stocks and ruble

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Newly announced U.S. sanctions—and the potential for a second round of actions in 90 days—roiled Russia’s currency and blue-chip stocks as the country braced for further economic pain amid uncertainties over the Trump administration’s commitment to enforcement.

In Moscow, the ruble

USDRUB, +0.6864%

 shed as much as 5% against the dollar on Thursday and stocks plunged as much as 9%, led by state banks and national carrier PJSC Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, which risk losing access to U.S. markets if the sanctions escalate. In Washington, the administration remained notably silent on the action and offered few details on the severity of the prospective punishments.

The sanctions stem from a March nerve-agent attack against a former Russian spy in the U.K. The U.S. and Britain have held Russia responsible for the attack. Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement.

The sanctions are mandated by a U.S. law that requires action over the use of chemical and biological weapons—but President Trump maintains significant discretionary power over the degree of that punishment.

An expanded version of this story can be found at WSJ.com

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