Safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen got a boost after results showed an overwhelming number of voters in the Ukrainian region approved splitting off and joining Russia in Sunday’s vote.
The U.S. has threatened Russia with sanctions should it annex Crimea. President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.
In early European trading, Germany’s DAX edged up less than 0.1 per cent to 9,062.63 while France’s CAC 40 added 0.2 per cent to 4,224.13. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.1 per cent to 6,537.59.
U.S. stocks were poised to rise. Dow futures and S&P 500 futures were both up 0.7 per cent.
Asian markets ended the day mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 per cent to close at 14,277.67 as the yen gained.
“If there are signs of Russian influence extending beyond Crimea, expect risk aversion to reverberate,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in Singapore, adding that “safety bolts” such as yen, gold, Swiss francs and U.S. Treasuries will also gain.
The dollar, which has lost about 1.4 per cent against the yen in the past week, was trading at 101.78 yen compared with 101.30 yen late Friday. A stronger yen makes goods from Japanese exporters such as Sony and Canon pricier overseas.
South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.4 per cent to 1,927.53 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.3 per cent to 21,473.95. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 per cent to 5,317.60.
In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose 1 per cent to 2,023.67 after officials announced on the weekend that exchange rate controls would be modestly eased. It was the latest step in an eventual plan to let the yuan float freely.
The dollar rose to 6.1773 yuan, up 0.4 per cent from 6.1531 late Friday, and is at the highest since the end of June last year, according to FactSet data. The yuan has reversed course recently after strengthening steadily for years. Analysts believe the central bank is guiding the exchange rate lower against the dollar in an effort to discourage speculators from moving money into the country to profit from the yuan’s rise.
Japanese internet company Softbank Corp. surged 5 per cent after China’s Alibaba, in which it owns a 37 per cent stake, confirmed long-awaited plans to move forward with a U.S. stock listing that could value the e-commerce giant at more than $100 billion.
In currencies The euro dipped to $1.3893 from $1.3898.
Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 20 cents to $98.69 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to settle at $98.20 on Friday.
Keywords: global markets