LONDON (ShareCast) – – FTSE ends 101 points lower at 6,708
– Ukraine crisis hits markets across globe
– Chinese data weighs heavy
– UK, US, Eurozone PMI readings all rise

techMARK 2,852.19 -1.81%
FTSE 100 6,708.35 -1.49%
FTSE 250 16,374.84 -2.10%

It was a bad start to the week for UK stocks, which plunged on the back of concerns shared across the globe about the increasingly fraught situation in Ukraine.

The FTSE 100 ended the session 101.35 points lower at 6,708.35.

The crisis in Ukraine stepped up a gear over the weekend as Moscow increased its military presence in the Crimea region of the Black Sea. The move has been condemned by the G7 who labelled it as a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”, prompting calls for potential trade sanctions and visa restrictions against Russia in retaliation.

The impact on the City was clear, with every sector on the UK stock market either flat or registering losses as investors scaled back risk appetite.

Disappointing data from China also weighed on market sentiment today after figures showed that manufacturing activity contracted for the second straight month. The HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell from 49.5 to 48.5 in February, although this was in line with expectations.

“Mining (LSE: MIR.L – news) companies have been hit hard by the report that manufacturing in China did in fact drop to a seven-month low. A cooling off in home building will make matters worse for the mineral extractors,” said David Madden, Market Analyst at IG (LSE: IGG.L – news) .

Busy day for UK macro

The session was also a heavy one for UK data releases, with Markit’s UK manufacturing sector Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showing a rise to a level of 56.9 in February from a reading of 56.6 in the month before, signalling improved operating conditions for the 11th month running. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 56.5.

Meanwhile, retail sales dropped in February as bad weather kept shoppers off the high street, according to figures from tax and accountancy firm BDO. Overall like-for-like sales among mid-market retailers dropped by 0.9% in February, according to figures in BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker.

The UK’s money supply expanded by 0.3% over the month during January, according to the Bank of England. Lending to individuals rose by £2.1bn during that same month or 0.1% month-on-month (1.4% year-on-year).

In other news, house prices in the UK increased by 0.3% month-on-month in January, or at their slowest for six months, as seasonal factors eased the upward pressure on prices, according to property website Hometrack.

Positive PMI readings for both Eurozone and US

The Eurozone’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing rose to 53.2 in February from 53 in January, surprising analysts who had expected the reading to remain unchanged. A level above 50 signals expansion.

Meanwhile, Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the US manufacturing sector rose to 57.1 in February from 53.7 in the month before. That was clearly above the preliminary or ‘flash’ estimate of 56.7.

In other US data, personal income and spending rose by 0.3% and 0.4% month-on-month in January, while construction spending rose by 0.1% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 943.1bn, following a 0.1% increase the month before. This was much better than the 0.5% decline expected by analysts.

Majority of stocks in red as risk appetite weakens

The developments in Ukraine saw investors flee towards safe-haven assets, such as gold and silver, today, pushing the share prices of precious metal producers Randgold and Fresnillo (Other OTC: FNLPF – news) higher – although these were the only two stocks in positive territory by mid-afternoon.

Randgold also benefitted from Citi‘s decision to raise its target price from 4,897p to 4,934p.

William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF – news) retreated from Friday’s gains which saw it move higher despite the fact its annual pre-tax profit fell 6% to £257m as the gaming company invested heavily in it its online offering.

A target price reduction from Citi – from 100p to 96p – helped push RSA Insurance (LSE: RSA.L – news) into the red.

On the second tier, ITE Group (LSE: ITE.L – news) plunged after both Canaccord Genuity (Other OTC: CCORF – news) and Westhouse Securities cut their ratings on the stock, to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and to ‘neutral’ from ‘add’, respectively.

Engineering specialist Keller was also lower after cautioning that most of its European markets “are expected to remain subdued and we anticipate that the current uncertain market conditions in Australia will continue for some time”.

FTSE 100 – Risers
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,953.00p +4.34%
Fresnillo (Berlin: FNL.BE – news) (FRES) 970.00p +1.94%
Pearson (Dusseldorf: PES.DU – news) (PSON) 1,023.00p +0.99%
Intertek Group (Other OTC: IKTSF – news) (ITRK) 2,970.00p +0.99%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 1,000.00p +0.10%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 780.00p +0.06%

FTSE 100 – Fallers
William Hill (WMH) 378.50p -4.80%
Schroders (Stuttgart: PYX.SG – news) (SDR) 2,589.00p -4.57%
Aberdeen Asset Management (Other OTC: ABDNF – news) (ADN) 373.70p -4.33%
WPP (Frankfurt: 0WP.F – news) (WPP (Other OTC: WPPGF – news) ) 1,254.00p -4.13%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 93.55p -3.80%
Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L – news) (AAL) 1,478.50p -3.43%
Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT.L – news) (AHT) 846.00p -3.42%
Carnival (Berlin: CVC1.BE – news) (CCL) 2,382.00p -3.29%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 422.80p -3.25%
GKN (Berlin: GKN.BE – news) (GKN (LSE: GKN.L – news) ) 393.00p -3.13%

FTSE 250 – Risers
African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG.L – news) (ABG) 295.30p +5.01%
NMC Health (LSE: NMC.L – news) (NMC) 478.50p +2.90%
Amlin (AML) 462.40p +2.78%
Hellermanntyton Group (HTY) 322.70p +2.57%
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS – news) ) (CEY) 56.10p +2.00%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 2,775.00p +0.91%
Home Retail Group (Frankfurt: PZR.F – news) (HOME) 197.70p +0.76%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 665.00p +0.76%
Bodycote (BOY) 761.50p +0.73%
Homeserve (HSV) 332.00p +0.64%

FTSE 250 – Fallers
ITE Group (ITE) 244.80p -13.13%
Evraz (LSE: EVR.L – news) (EVR) 61.15p -12.71%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,050.00p -11.64%
Polymetal International (POLY) 560.50p -11.52%
Keller Group (LSE: KLR.L – news) (KLR) 1,156.00p -8.98%
Ferrexpo (Frankfurt: FEX.F – news) (FXPO) 141.40p -7.58%
Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR.L – news) (KMR) 14.95p -6.56%
Redrow (RDW) 320.90p -6.11%
Vesuvius (LSE: VSVS.L – news) (VSVS) 442.10p -5.68%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 413.50p -5.33%