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FTSE 100: This morning’s risers and fallers

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UK stocks were sold off sharply on Monday morning on the back of the escalating situation in Ukraine, with investors taking profits after a strong performance over the past month.

The FTSE 100 dropped 1% to 6,745 in early trading, following a 4.6% gain for the month of February.

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.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who is travelling to Ukraine today, released a statement on Saturday, saying: “Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to de-escalate tensions, the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound.”

In other news this morning, the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector fell from 49.5 to 48.5 in February. While this was in line with expectations, it showed that the contraction in activity accelerated last month. In contrast, the official China non-manufacturing PMI improved from 53.4 to 55 in February.

Manufacturing PMIs from the UK, Eurozone and US are due out later in the session.

Financials fall, precious metal miners gain

Financial stocks were bearing the brunt of the sell-off this morning with Hargreaves Lansdown, Aberdeen Asset Management, London Stock Exchange, Schroders and Legal & General all suffering losses.

This reduction of risk appetite saw investors flee towards safe-haven assets such as gold and silver this morning, with prices of both metals up over 2% early on. As such, precious metal producers Randgold, Fresnillo, African Barrick Gold and Centamin were among the few risers in London.

The wider mining sector was putting in a mixed performance, however, with heavyweights BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Antofagasta trading lower.

Ukraine-focused iron ore producer Ferrexpo was among the worst performers as investors kept a close eye on geopolitical developments in the region. Similarly, Russia- and emerging markets-focused events group ITE was also registering heavy falls this morning, along with cigarette firm British American Tobacco, which has 10% exposure to Russia.

AstraZeneca was down despite the news that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the pharmaceutical company’s injectable Bydureon Pen treatment for type 2 diabetes.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,995.00p +5.22%
Fresnillo (FRES) 978.50p +2.84%
BG Group (BG.) 1,100.50p +1.10%
BT Group (BT.A) 410.80p +0.24%
Intertek Group (ITRK) 2,944.00p +0.10%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,360.00p -2.65%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 380.70p -2.53%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 1,976.00p -2.52%
GKN (GKN) 395.70p -2.46%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,350.50p -2.39%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,994.00p -2.20%
Schroders (SDR) 2,656.00p -2.10%
TUI Travel (TT.) 438.20p -2.03%
Standard Life (SL.) 382.10p -2.03%
ARM Holdings (ARM) 990.00p -1.98%

Source: ShareCast