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London stocks tumble as Russia-Ukraine tensions weigh


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) -UK shares fell on Monday, as warnings of a Russian invasion of Ukraine sapped appetite for riskier assets, while oil prices at seven-year highs limited losses in heavyweight energy stocks.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index sank 2.2%, with financial stocks leading declines. Local benchmark 10-year bond yields fell from three-year highs, as investors rushed towards safer investments.

The United States warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time, with Moscow having amassed more than 100,000 troops near the border. Fears of a possible conflict had battered most stock markets last week.

Focus is now on Ukraine’s intent to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a move Russian President Vladimir Putin has said would be a trigger for war.

British energy stocks fell the least, as oil prices climbed on the prospect of supply disruptions caused by any escalation over Ukraine. [O/R]

“Just as the storm of COVID appeared to be receding, the growing expectation of an invasion of Ukraine is the fresh threat now unnerving investors,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown (LON:HRGV).

“The twin troubles of a looming conflict and soaring (oil) prices are likely to be behind the plunge in investor confidence.”

The domestically-focussed midcap index lost 2.2%, with industrials and consumer discretionary stocks coming under the most pressure.

Sportswear retailer JD Sports fell 3.3%, after Britain fined the firm and Footasylum a combined 4.7 million pounds ($6.34 million) for breaching an order that prevented the firms from integrating further.

Airline logistics provider John Menzies dropped 5.2%, after Kuwait-based National Aviation Services said a 469 million pound takeover proposal rejected by John Menzies represented a “full and fair value” for the British airport services group.

($1 = 0.7409 pounds)

London stocks tumble as Russia-Ukraine tensions weigh

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