Le Pays De France - Stocks buckle on ongoing Ukraine fears

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Stocks buckle on ongoing Ukraine fears
Stocks buckle on ongoing Ukraine fears

Stocks buckle on ongoing Ukraine fears

Stock markets retreated on Friday at the end of a highly volatile week rocked by twists and turns in the Ukraine crisis and concerns about interest rate hikes.

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Wall Street had already seen a steep drop on Thursday on renewed fears that Russia would soon invade Ukraine, as well as long-running angst about the Federal Reserve's plans to hike interest rates.

US markets were lower again on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 and tech-heavy were also lower, after starting the session briefly in the black.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100, the Paris CAC 40 and Frankfurt's DAX all ended the week in negative territory.

"Markets continue to chop around on these Russia headlines", said Neil Wilson, analyst at Markets.com.

Shellfire rang out near the frontline between government forces and rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, as Kyiv and Washington accused Russia of seeking to provoke an incident to falsely justify an invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will oversee a ballistic missile drill this weekend, warned of a "deterioration of the situation" in eastern Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden will hold talks with Western allies on Friday to discuss Ukraine.

"The markets may be getting some relief as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week," said a note by analysts at Charles Schwab investment firm.

- Oil prices fall -

The crisis over Ukraine comes as traders continue to contend with the prospect of US interest rates rising sharply this year as the Fed tries to rein in inflation at a 40-year high.

After spending most of last year saying surging prices would be transitory, the US central bank is now in full-on firefighting mode.

But commentators fear it may be behind the curve and will have to act more stringently than previously thought.

While tensions in Eastern Europe continue to absorb most of the attention, oil prices extended losses as traders grow increasingly optimistic of a deal on Iran's nuclear programme that could see it restart crude exports.

"Reports of the US and Iran nearing a new nuclear deal couldn't have come at a better time and oil prices are slipping at the prospect of more than a million barrels of crude re-entering the market," noted Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA trading group.

"In the absence of a deal, we could already be talking about triple-figure oil prices."

Oil prices were lower on Friday, with the WTI contract at one point dropping under the $88 mark.

- Key figures around 1640 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 34,184.84 points

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,513.62 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 1.5 percent at 15,042.51 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,929.63 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.9 percent at 4,07428

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,122.07 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.9 percent at 24,327.71 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,490.76 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $89.76 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $92.79 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1334 from $1.1366 late Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3585 from $1.3615

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.42 pence from 83.44 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 115.10 yen from 114.91 yen