• York Investment & Finance

Global Markets Overview: Eastern Europe

By Julia Solecka, Analyst at the York IFS Global Market Telegraph

From 22 September to 6 October 2020

Stock markets have ended a calm fortnight in volatility following the announcement of Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 test result. Investors streamed from emerging market economies and equities to the dollar, yen and gold in search of perceived safety among the uncertainty leading up to the American presidential election. European stock markets were among some to tumble, with the Romanian BET down 0.91% and Russia’s MICEX ending down 1.53% week on week. Some larger indexes, such as the pan-European Stoxx 600, ended with a slight gain, with the biggest losers being oil and gas retail stocks which were down 0.4%[i].

Following weeks of deadlock, the EU has imposed sanctions on Belarus, expected to enter into force by the end of the week. Originally held up by a dispute with Cyprus over Turkey’s energy exploration, the EU sanctions are against Belarus officials, but not Lukashenko himself[ii]. Similarly, the UK and Canada have imposed asset freezes and travel bans on the Belarusian President and other senior officials[iii] over the alleged rigging of the election as well as violence against protesters. The push to add pressure for another election was met with retaliation from Belarus, with sanctions announced against unnamed EU officials for “striving towards the deterioration of relations with us”[iv].

Hungarian banks and telecoms infrastructure were the latest victims of a cyber attack in the form of a DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service). The attack, aimed to overwhelm and disrupt services with a flood of high data traffic, was said by Magyar Telekom MTEL.BU to be 10x higher in volume than usually seen in similar types of incidents[v]. Reportedly one of the biggest cyber attacks Hungary has ever experienced, it was launched in several waves from computer servers in Russia, China and Vietnam. This follows a reported increase in cyber criminals targeting financial institutions during the coronavirus pandemic, with an increase of 38% between February and March earlier this year to make up over half of all attacks observed[vi]. While it was noted that overall numbers of cybercrimes stayed constant, there was a clear correlation between coronavirus related news and cyberattacks, with criminals exploiting the uncertainty as the pandemic has developed.

This article was first published in University of York Investment and Finance Society's Global Market Telegraph (GMT) Edition 9.1 in early October 2020.

Reference List: [i] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/02/european-stock-futures-trump-tests-positive-for-coronavirus.html [ii] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/02/belarus-officials-eu-sanctions-lukashenko [iii] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/30/uk-canada-impose-sanctions-on-belaruss-lukashenko [iv] https://www.euronews.com/2020/10/02/belarus-announces-retaliatory-sanctions-against-the-eu [v] https://uk.reuters.com/article/hungary-cyber/update-1-hungarian-banks-telecoms-services-briefly-hit-by-cyber-attack-magyar-telekom-idUKL8N2GN00Z [vi] https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252481684/Coronavirus-Cyber-attacks-on-banks-seen-spiking-says-Carbon-Black

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