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Ukraine unrest keep pressure on shares

Friday, July 18 12:25:42

World markets remained under pressure on Friday after a Malaysian airliner was downed near the Ukraine-Russia border and Israel stepped up a ground assault against Gaza militants.

As investors scurried into defensive assets, European shares saw more selling after falling heavily on Thursday. Demand for safe-haven German government bonds kept their yields near record lows.

World leaders demanded an international investigation into the downing of the Malaysian plane with 298 people on board over eastern Ukraine. Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for a tragedy that stoked tensions between Russia and the West.

Russia markets took the heaviest hit. Dollar-traded stocks in Moscow were down another 2.3 percent to put their losses for the week at more than 8 percent. The rouble recovered almost half a percent on the day but was heading for its biggest weekly loss in more than a year.

There were some signs that markets were trying to steady. Some analysts wondered whether the Malaysian jet tragedy could bring the two sides in Ukraine to the negotiating table and take the heat out of the crisis.

The United States called for an immediate ceasefire to allow easy access to the crash sitel. Pro-Russian separatists told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a security and rights body, they would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the scene.

Gold dipped as buyers cashed in on some of its 1.5 percent overnight jump. The Japanese yen and U.S. government bonds - the safe haven investors usually head for - both gave up some ground.

European shares took back some of their initial falls. International Consolidated Airlines, owner of British Airways and Iberia, rose, although the region's other two big names, Air France and Lufthansa, fell.

U.S. futures were also flat, suggesting some measure of stability might return to U.S. markets. (Reuters)

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