Good afternoon and welcome to another day of market updates. Markets were down 2/3% this morning but have recovered all losses now and are flat at around 7000 points. All we have to worry about is market values , the Ukrainians are losing everything and just trying to stay alive, Petrol prices have hit another record high as oil and gas costs soar amid fears of a global economic shock from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Oil prices jumped to $139 a barrel, the highest level for almost 14 years, while wholesale gas prices for next-day delivery more than doubled. It came as the US hinted at a ban on buying Russian energy, as it looked to other countries to increase supplies. UK petrol prices hit an average of 155p a litre, the AA motoring group said. The market turmoil is fuelling concerns that the price of many everyday items from food to petrol and heating, already rising at their fastest rate for 30 years, could be pushed higher. Analysts have already warned that UK energy bills could reach as high as £3,000 a year due to the surge in oil and gas prices.
Russia is the world's second top producer of crude oil after Saudi Arabia, and supplies about a third of Europe's needs. The price of Brent crude rose by more than a fifth last week amid fears of a reduction in Russian supplies. The latest rise in UK petrol prices has pushed the cost to more than £7 a gallon, the AA said. Filling up a car with a 55-litre tank now costs nearly £17 more than a year ago, rising from £68.60 to £85.59. Shell has defended its decision to purchase Russian crude oil despite the invasion and bombardment of Ukraine. The oil giant said in a statement that the decision to purchase the fuel at a discounted price was "difficult". It confirmed that it had bought a cargo of Russian crude oil on Friday but it had "no alternative". Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hit out at the energy company, asking on Twitter: "Doesn't Russian oil smell Ukrainian blood for you?" So far Western countries have not imposed sanctions on Russian oil imports, fearing it will drive up already record high energy prices around the world. But on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was now in "active discussions" with European partners about banning them while also maintaining a "steady global supply". Russia is the world's second top producer of crude oil after Saudi Arabia, and supplies about a third of Europe's needs. The price of a first class stamp will rise by 10p to 95p as Royal Mail seeks to cover higher delivery costs while the number of letters being sent falls. Second class stamps will also increase by 2p to 68p, with the new prices coming into effect on 4 April. Royal Mail said it was having to deliver to a growing number of addresses, which was adding to costs. Letter volumes have fallen by more than 60% since their peak in 2004-05 and by about 20% since the pandemic began. Postmen and women deliver about seven billion letters in total each year, said Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, but the number of addresses they have to deliver to has grown by around 3.5 million since 2004, when letter volumes were at about 20 billion a year on average. Some second home owners in Wales could pay four times their current level of council tax from next year, the Welsh government has announced. Currently councils can charge a second home premium of up to 100% but that will increase to 300% from April 2023. The move, included in a Labour-Plaid Cymru cooperation agreement, is part of efforts to make it easier for people to afford homes where they grew up. A homeowners' group said the move was "morally indefensible". But Climate Change Minister Julie James hit back, arguing it was "the morally right thing to do" to protect communities. Have a peaceful day, Best Regards S Dhanda Head of Wealth @ ALFRED DUNN