US assessments on Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed crude price benchmarks up close to $100 per barrel, which also negatively affected stocks in Wall Street and the S&P.

Oil price rises to $95 a barrel and US stocks tumble amid Russia-Ukraine tensions.
Oil price rises to $95 a barrel and US stocks tumble amid Russia-Ukraine tensions. (AP)

Wall Street stocks tumbled and oil prices surged as White House warnings of a possibly imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine reverberated through financial markets.

Markets lurched on Friday during a briefing by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who said a Russian invasion could "begin at any time," including during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

"If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians," Sullivan said. 

"Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours."

Investors had become less worried about an imminent invasion of Ukraine in recent days following Western diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But stocks tumbled after Sullivan's remarks, with the S&P 500 ultimately losing 1.9 percent.

Analysts said the sell-off was likely heightened by the timing just before the weekend, with investors shifting into a "risk-off" mode to reduce their exposure for the two days when there is no trading.

"The Russia-Ukraine tensions have hovered over already shaky investor sentiment," said John Lynch, chief investment officer for Comerica Wealth Management. "Investors have been counting on a diplomatic resolution, but recent developments indicate this may be wishful thinking and therefore, not fully priced into the markets."

READ MORE: Biden: US citizens should leave Ukraine immediately

Chevron, ExxonMobil only winners

The Brent crude oil price hit $95.65 a barrel at 3.03 p.m. EDT (2003GMT), according to official figures, marking the highest level since October 1, 2014.

Most industrial sectors finished lower on Wall Street following the midday White House announcement.

An exception was energy, with oil giants Chevron and ExxonMobil winning more than two percent as crude prices jumped on worries that stiff sanctions on Russia could prompt the country, a major crude and natural gas exporter, to curtail investment or weaponize their energy assets.

Shares of weapons makers also moved higher, including Lockheed Martin, which gained 2.8 percent and Northrop Grumman, which rose 4.5 percent.

Earlier in Europe, London equities slid after economic data pointed to a December slowdown amid the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The UK economy grew by a record 7.5 percent last year to rebound from the pandemic crash, but shrank by a modest 0.2 percent in the final month, official data showed.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt and Paris stocks banked lower, mirroring Asia after overnight Wall Street losses.

READ MORE: US to send extra 3,000 troops to Poland amid Ukraine-Russia crisis

Source: TRTWorld and agencies