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Stocks

Europe stocks stage cautious comeback after pricing in Crimean vote

European shares have cautiously begun to claw back losses suffered last week from mounting tensions ahead of Crimea’s secession vote. While markets in Western Europe edged up slightly, Russian stocks surged strongly.

At the London Stock Exchange, the Europe-wide FTSEurofirst 300 rose slightly by 0.6 percent in trading Monday morning, rebounding from its lowest level in more than a month on Friday.

The small gain reflected investors' caution about a lack of solutions to the Ukraine crisis, which has resulted in a standoff between Russia and the Western world, including the possibility of economic sanction to be imposed against Moscow.

On Friday, stock markets across the world suffered heavy losses amid fear that a pro-Russia referendum in Crimea might trigger violence in the region.

On Monday, traders said the market remained vulnerable, but investors were not panicking.

"Much of the Crimea news had been priced in last week and the market is now just calming itself down," Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management, told Reuters news agency.

Unsurprisingly, the Russian stock market staged the biggest rebound after plunging about 5 percent on Friday. Moscow's MICEX index gained 1.93 percent, while the small-stocks RTS was up 2.11 in early trading.

In Germany, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange rose 0.67 percent re-taking the symbolic 9,000-point mark after dropping briefly below it on Friday. In Monday mid-morning trading the German DAX index hovered around 9,100 points.

Crimea stand-off - could sanctions work?

Investors' appetite for risk, however, will remain subdued in view of lingering tougher sanctions against Russia and Crimea. The United States and Europe were discussing travel bans and asset freezes against Russian and Crimean individuals on Monday. If they decide to impose economic sanctions against Moscow, this would most likely spark a spiral of tit-for-that measures, economically damaging to both sides.

uhe/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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