Risk appetite has picked up today, despite volatile commodity price swings and deepening geopolitical tensions.

Brent crude jumped in Asian hours, trading just over US$130/barrel, following news overnight that the US and UK will ban Russian energy imports.

The US will ban all forms of energy imports from Russia, while UK’s ban only applies to oil, allowing natural gas and coal to be purchased.

Speaking at the White House, President Biden said the move targets “the main artery of Russia’s economy”.

While Russian imports account for 30-40% of mainland Europe’s oil and gas needs, the US only imports 3% and UK 4% of their energy needs from Russia.

Meanwhile, a huge squeeze saw the London Metals Exchange briefly shut down trading on nickel futures overnight.

Nickel prices spiked to US101k/ton as short sellers ditched their positions, before settling at around US$80k/ton.

Today, Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) plunged by 22% and had its shares halted from trading by the ASX.

NIC’s shareholder, China based Tsingshan, is said to be facing a US$8bn loss from the nickel short squeeze, which is already being called a “black swan” event by traders.

But the broader ASX 200 benchmark index had a breather, and was up by 1.14% today with sectors like Tech (up almost 3%) and Discretionary (up almost 2%) making a comeback.

The Energy and Mining sectors also rose by around 0.5%.

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Gaming company Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) was up 4% after saying that it does not anticipate a material impact on earnings as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) gained 11% on the back of rising energy prices.

Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) was up 8% as spot gold climbed to US$2,056 an ounce on flight to safety.

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