North American stock markets plunged after opening to news that Russian forces have launched a new military offensive in Ukraine.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 624.50 points at 32,507.26. The S&P 500 index was down 49.24 points at 4,176.26 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 70.20 points at 12,967.28.

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The S&P/TSX composite index was down 300 points in early trading. By mid-morning, the index stood at 20,597.10, 147.01 points below the previous day’s close. The Canadian dollar also suffered, trading for US$0.77.68 compared to US$0.78.63.

The geopolitical tension also pushed the April crude contract over the US$100-per-barrel mark for the first time since 2014 when Russian began its annexation of Crimea. By mid-morning, the contract was at US$97.0 per barrel.

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