Stock markets in Europe have closed the week on a nervous note amid the uncertainty in Ukraine. Germany's DAX staged an afternoon recovery to close in the black, but only after sinking below the 9,000 mark earlier.
On Friday, European stock markets traded an average of 0.6 percent lower with Russia's MICEX index with Germany's DAX hit hardest by investor's flight to safety ahead of the weekend referendum in Crimea.
In Moscow, the MICEX took a sharp 5-percent tumble to its lowest ebb since 2009 - only to recover the majority of the day's losses and close 0.9-percent down.
was down more than 5 percent in early trading at its lowest since 2009. The Russian rouble hovered near an all-time low on the back of tensions over Ukraine. On Thursday, Russia launched new military exercises in spite of US warnings that Moscow would face serious consequences if annexation was the outcome of Sunday's referendum in Crimea.
At the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Germany's DAX index also closed the week on the rebound, logging a daily gain of 0.43 percent. Prior to this, however, the German exchange had dipped below the psychological 9,000-point mark. German blue chips heavily involved in trading with Russia saw some of the biggest losses. Volkswagen, BMW and Heidelberger Cement were among worst performers on Friday.
Britain's FTSE100 was down 0.4 percent, while the CAC index in France slumped 0.8 percent as investors looked to reduce exposure to risk heading into the weekend.
Trading on Friday had the distinct whiff of a ‘risk-off' day, IG stock market analyst Alastair McCaig told Reuters news agency.
“Every noise I've heard suggests that Crimea will vote to join Russia… and while the market is expecting that, it's the consequences of it that make it more problematic,” he added.
The scuttle to safety pushed down German government bond yields, while gold, which is another safe-haven favorite, remained flat on Friday after steadily climbing for the past six weeks.
uhe/msh (Reuters, dpa, AP)