European markets cautious as Russia-Ukraine crisis develops

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a press conference voiced alarm at alleged increased shelling by Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s military denied the accusation and alleged that Russia was engaged in an information war

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LONDON: European markets retreated once again, with global sentiment hanging in the balance as the Ukraine-Russia crisis reaches a pivotal moment.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 0.4% by early afternoon, with travel and leisure stocks shedding 1.6% to lead losses while mining stocks bucked the downward trend to add 0.8%.

Addressing the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an urgent appeal against a Russian invasion, after Western leaders rubbished the Kremlin’s claims of a drawback of troops and Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shelling a civilian village.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday, the Pentagon said, calling for de-escalation and the return of Russian forces to bases. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a press conference Friday voiced alarm at alleged increased shelling by Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s military denied the accusation and alleged that Russia was engaged in an information war.

Asia-Pacific shares mostly slid overnight as tensions in eastern Europe continued to rattle investors, but selling pressure eased on hopes that a meeting between Blinken and Lavrov next week may yield a diplomatic solution to the standoff. U.S. stock futures were little changed in early premarket trade after the Dow posted its worst day of 2022 during regular trading hours on Thursday, falling more than 600 points.

Corporate earnings in Europe on Friday came from Allianz, NatWest and Sika, among others.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finnish pharmaceutical company Orion soared more than 24% after Bayer on Thursday announced positive results from clinical trials of a prostate cancer drug developed by the two companies.

At the bottom of the European bluechip index, Swedish heating technology company Nibe Industrier fell 6.8% after its fourth-quarter earnings report.

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