London's FTSE index dips as Ukraine fears weigh on Europe stocks

London (AFP) – London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index ended lower on Friday in line with other European markets as tensions mounted ahead of a weekend referendum on Crimean secession from Ukraine.

The index was down 17.72 points at the close of trade at 6,536.06 points.

A hotly anticipated meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday failed to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, where residents of the Crimean peninsula are on Sunday set to vote on whether to secede from the mainland.

Kerry said the US considered the Russian-backed referendum illegitimate and outlined the prospect of sanctions should it go ahead.

“European markets continued to decline, with the FTSE 100 heading for its worst week of losses since June. Markets remained tentative ahead of a referendum in Crimea on whether to leave Ukraine to join Russia,” Lee Mumford of spread betting firm Spreadex said.

Aberdeen Asset Management led the day’s fallers, its shares shedding 3.11 percent in value to settle at 365.00 pence. The session’s next biggest faller was International Consolidated Airlines, which dipped 2.68 percent to 421.30 pence.

Mexico-based mining firm Fresnillo was the day’s biggest climber, up 2.89 percent at 925.5 pence, followed by grocer Sainsbury’s, which rose 2.85 percent higher to end at 313.60 pence.

Lloyds Banking Group was the most traded stock by volume, with 131.14 million shares trading hands, followed by Vodafone with 90.51 million.

On the currency markets, sterling was at unchanged against the dollar at 4.57pm from $ 1.6624 the previous evening, but the currency had weakened against the euro, trading at 1.1949 euros compared to 1.1987 euros on Thursday.

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