World stocks drifted today as investors largely shrugged off a weekend vote in which Crimeans opted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
Safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen received a boost after results showed an overwhelming number of voters in the Ukrainian region approved splitting off and joining Russia in yesterday’s vote.
The US has threatened Russia with sanctions should it annex Crimea. President Barack Obama and other top American officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.
In early European trading, Germany’s DAX edged up less than 0.1% t to 9,062.63, while France’s CAC 40 added 0.2% to 4,224.13 and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.1% to 6,537.59.
US stocks were poised to rise. Dow futures and S&P 500 futures were both up 0.7%.
Asian markets ended the day mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3% to close at 14,277.67 as the yen gained.
“If there are signs of Russian influence extending beyond Crimea, expect risk aversion to reverberate,” said Vishnu Varathan, of Mizuho Bank, in Singapore, adding that “safety bolts” such as yen, gold, Swiss francs and US Treasurys will also gain.
The dollar, which has lost about 1.4% against the yen in the past week, was trading at 101.78 yen compared with 101.30 yen late on Friday. A stronger yen makes goods from Japanese exporters such as Sony and Canon pricier overseas.
South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.4% to 1,927.53, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.3% to 21,473.95 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% to 5,317.60.
In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose 1% to 2,023.67 after officials announced at the weekend that exchange rate controls would be modestly eased. It was the latest step in an eventual plan to let the yuan float freely.
The dollar rose to 6.1773 yuan, up 0.4% from 6.1531 late on Friday, and is at the highest since the end of June last year, according to FactSet data.
The yuan has reversed course recently after strengthening steadily for years. Analysts believe the central bank is guiding the exchange rate lower against the dollar in an effort to discourage speculators from moving money into the country to profit from the yuan’s rise.
Japanese internet company Softbank surged 5% after China’s Alibaba, in which it owns a 37% stake, confirmed long-awaited plans to move forward with a US stock listing which could value the e-commerce giant at more than 100 billion US dollars.
In currencies the euro dipped to 1.3893 US dollars from 1.3898 US dollars.
Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 20 cents to 98.69 US dollars in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to settle at 98.20 US dollars on Friday.