European markets are mixed as the Crimean referendum looms, and U.S. markets open higher despite a raft of disappointing economic data.
Heading into the European afternoon session, the FTSE 100 is down 23.81 points (0.41%) at 6,527.15. Leading the decline is telecoms giant BT Group plc. (BT-A.L), currently down 3.12% at 385.50; closely followed by publicly owned asset management company Aberdeen Asset Management PLC (ADN.L), currently down 2.87% at 365.80. Economic data has fuelled the downside momentum in the UKs leading index, with UK National Statistics reporting a dip in exports and a resulting trade balance of -9.79B, missing the forecast of -8.60B.
Across the channel, the EURO STOXX 50 is down 19.29 points (0.64%) at 3,000.25, having dipped below 3000.00 on Friday for the first time since the beginning of February. Leading the downside charge is telecoms operator and retailer Orange (ORA.PA), with the French based organisation currently down more than 3% for the day, trading just shy of 10.00 from daily highs of 10.20.
The decline comes as the referendum in Ukraine approaches. Scheduled for this coming Sunday, the Russians have proposed a referendum that could annex Crimea to Russia. The global opinion however, is that the referendum would have no legal standing and that, regardless of its result, Crimea will remain part of Ukraine. The political unrest and potential military tension the referendum will likely create is dictating a risk of investor sentiment as the markets head into the weekend, putting pressure on the European markets.**relatedarticle**
In the U.S., markets have opened up across the board, with the S&P 500 trading at 1,849.25, a 0.16% increase on the day’s open. Similarly, having carved out fresh monthly lows on Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.09%, currently trading at 16,135.89.
The boost comes despite a host of disappointing fundamental data, the headline being the producer price index (PPI) (MoM), its core equivalent and the Michigan consumer sentiment index. The figures came out at -0.1%, -0.2% and 79.9 respectively, missing forecasts across the board.
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