- FTSE 100 at lowest intraday level since February 17th
- Ukraine conflict escalates
- Stocks with exposure to Ukraine, Russia hit
- China manufacturing weakens
techMARK 2,842.73 -2.13%
FTSE 100 6,683.18 -1.86%
FTSE 250 16,345.25 -2.28%
UK stocks sank to their lowest levels in two weeks on Monday with escalating tensions in Ukraine prompting investors to book profits after a strong performance by equity markets over the past month.
The FTSE 100 was trading down 1.9% at 6,683 by midday, reaching an intraday level not seen since February 17th. This follows a decent run by London's benchmark index which rose 4.6% in February alone.
Toby Morris, Senior Sales Trader at CMC Markets, said: "This morning's 10% slashing of the Russian Micex index goes to show just how concerned the financial world is, and on the current trajectory open conflict seems frighteningly close. [...] Even if conflict is avoided, political and economic damage increases with every hour that goes by."
The crisis in Ukraine stepped up a gear over the weekend as Moscow stepped up its military presence in the Crimea region of the Black Sea. The move has been condemned by Russia's G8 partners who labelled it as a "violation of Ukraine's sovereignty".
Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that he is protecting his country's interests after the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last month.
However, US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is travelling to Ukraine today, released a statement on Saturday saying that unless Russia takes immediate and concrete steps to "de-escalate" tensions, "the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia's international standing will be profound".
Economic data from China was also dampening sentiment on markets this morning, after figures showed that manufacturing activity contracted for the second month in a row. The HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell from 49.5 to 48.5 in February, though this was in line with expectations.
In contrast, manufacturing PMIs from the UK and Eurozone both showed that activity had picked up slightly last month, with both figures coming in better than analysts' forecasts.
Stocks slip on Ukraine, Russia exposure
Companies heavily exposed to Ukraine, Russia and neighbouring countries were bearing the brunt of the market sell-off today as investors speculated about how the heightened geopolitical risk could affect business.
Exhibitions and conferences organiser ITE Group was one of the worst performers on the FTSE 350, sinking 13%, after Canaccord Genuity downgraded its rating for the stock from 'buy' to 'hold', saying that recent events and weakness in the rouble could hit profits.
Other names such as Ferrexpo, Bank of Georgia, EVRAZ and Polymetal were also suffering heavy losses on the back of their significant presence in the regions. Raven Russia, RusPetro and JKX Oil & Gas were also trading in the red.
Financial stocks were also out of favour, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Schroders, Hargreaves Lansdown and RBS. Airlines IAG and easyJet were also seeing a bit of selling pressure, along with travel firms Carnival and TUI Travel.
This reduction of risk appetite saw investors flee towards safe-haven assets such as gold and silver this morning, pushing the share prices
of precious metal producers Randgold, Fresnillo, African Barrick Gold and Centamin higher.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,929.00p +3.83%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,961.00p +0.68%
Fresnillo (FRES) 956.50p +0.53%
SSE (SSE) 1,407.00p +0.29%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
William Hill (WMH) 379.40p -4.58%
WPP (WPP) 1,255.00p -4.05%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 375.20p -3.94%
Carnival (CCL) 2,370.00p -3.78%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 1,430.00p -3.70%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 421.30p -3.59%
Schroders (SDR) 2,617.00p -3.54%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,153.00p -3.34%
Aviva (AV.) 457.80p -3.34%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 317.30p -3.23%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 294.90p +4.87%
Amlin (AML) 465.90p +3.56%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 325.00p +3.31%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 56.15p +2.09%
NMC Health (NMC) 470.30p +1.14%
Drax Group (DRX) 813.00p +0.87%
UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company (UDG) 372.70p +0.87%
Cranswick (CWK) 1,263.00p +0.64%
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI) (PDL) 158.30p +0.06%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 132.70p -13.27%
ITE Group (ITE) 245.80p -12.78%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,049.00p -11.68%
Evraz (EVR) 63.05p -9.99%
Polymetal International (POLY) 590.00p -6.87%
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 14.99p -6.31%
Keller Group (KLR) 1,193.00p -6.06%
Henderson Group (HGG) 240.70p -5.57%
Kentz Corporation Ltd. (KENZ) 719.00p -4.96%
Soco International (SIA) 451.50p -4.91%