LONDON (The Deal) -- European and Asian bourses took cover as the fallout from Russia's invasion of the Crimea hit confidence and sparked fears of what British Foreign Secretary William Hague Monday described as "the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century."
Frankfurt took the situation particularly badly, falling over 2.6% at the open and only clawing back a small part of that loss in morning trades. But other European and Asian markets also saw sharp falls. However, Chinese indices, seemingly semi-detached from world affairs and even their own internal unrest -- including terrorist attacks by alleged Uighur separatists -- actually rose on Monday.
The Russian markets were clearly in focus too, with Moscow's Micex Composite down 8.74% by the end of the morning, as the prospect of Western sanctions hit home, the ruble tumbled against the dollar and the euro and the Central Bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 1.5 percentage points to 7%. And Russian stocks traded in London, from retailers such as OJSC Magnit, which was down nearly 10%, to steelmaker Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, which was down 14%, took big hits.
But the South African gold miner Randgold Resources was the biggest riser in London, up 4.36% at 4,954 pence, as gold prices tend to strengthen in times of crisis.
Meanwhile, Western European stocks with exposure to Ukraine and Russia also bore the scars. Danish Brewer Carlsberg was down 4.5% in Copenhagen, and Austrian bank Raiffeisen was down over 7%.
The economic news wasn't all bad. British manufacturing confidence continued to rise, with the Markit indicator jumping from 56.6 in January to 56.9 in February, and even in the eurozone manufacturing jobs held up well. Markit's Spanish manufacturing sector confidence also improved, indicating a better jobs outlook for the second month in a row. But nothing could improve the overall mood as developments in the Ukraine continued to top the news.