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Global Stocks Sink as Tension Rises in Ukraine

LONDON (The Deal) -- Once again tension in the Ukraine is rising and markets are sinking. Moscow's Micex Composite was down almost 1.8% by the end of the morning local time and the main Western European markets were all in negative territory. Not all the caution was to do with geopolitics. After last Friday's weakness in New York, the markets were also waiting for Citigroup's (C) quarterly earnings announcement.

As ever there were gainers as well as losers from the tension. Precious metals miners Fresnillo and Randgold Resources were both glittering in the London sunshine. Mexico's Fresnillo, the world's largest silver miner, was up 1.38% at 921 pence, while Randgold, of South Africa rose 1.28% to 4,735 pence. Glencore Xstrata was also up over 1% at 315 pence in London, on the $6 billion sale of its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru to companies backed by the Chinese government. Glencore had fallen earlier in Hong Kong, as investors there seemed less impressed.

But other resources stocks suffered. Oil giant BP (BP) was down 1.3% at 460.25, over lingering concerns about its 20% stake in Russian oil company Rosneft and the large proportion of BP's oil production which comes from Russia.

It wasn't all bad news in Europe. Eurozone industrial production was up a better 1.7% in February, although Eurostat also revised downwards its estimate for January to just 1.5% from 2.1%. And while growth in the region remains fragile, inflation remains low --- Italy reported inflation at a five-year low of 0.3% in March. That suggested to some that the European Central Bank could resort to renewed economic stimulus measures in the weeks to come.

Shares in both Swedish arms manufacturer Saab and German steel maker ThyssenKrupp declined despite their announcement of negotiations for Saab to buy ThyssenKrupp's Swedish Marine Systems business, and bring the submarine and warship maker back into Swedish hands. Meanwhile, in Germany, defense company Rheinmetall saw its shares sink over 4% on newspaper reports that the government was considering blocking a big sale of tanks to Saudi Arabia. Its defense electronics subsidiary is also reportedly the subject of a corruption probe.

But in Paris, news that New York activist investor Guy Wyser-Pratte has taken a 1% stake in ski resorts and theme park operator Compagnie des Alpes, sent that stock up 0.62% to 16.20.

In Paris the CAC 40 was down 0.78% at 4,332, while in London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.81% at 6,508. Frankfurt's DAX index closed the morning down 1.02% at 9,220.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 continued its week-long fall, ending Monday down a further 0.36% at 13,910. Railways to hotels conglomerate Seibu followed the close with the pricing of an IPO at 1,600 yen, raising 44.5 billion yen, or $438 million. That was at the bottom of its pricing range and 30% lower than a target set only last month.

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