December 21, 2014
Wall St little changed as Ukraine, China concerns brushed off
US stocks finished little changed, with the Nasdaq up for the first session in five, as investors grappled with the evolving situation in Ukraine but shrugged off concern over weakness in China's economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 11.17 points or 0.07 percent, to 16,340.08, the S&P 500 gained 0.57 points or 0.03 percent, to 1,868.2 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.144 points or 0.37 percent, to 4,323.332.
European shares fell sending benchmark indexes to one-month lows, as mounting worries over China's economic growth rate and persistent tensions in Ukraine spooked investors.
Shares in big exporters were among the hardest hit, with German industrial conglomerate Siemens down 2.2 percent and BASF, the world's fifth-largest agrochemicals and seeds maker, sliding 1.9 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 1.1 percent lower, at 1,307.26 points.
The index had briefly extended its losses in afternoon trade, falling by as much as 1.5 percent to a one-month low as investors were rattled by the collapse of a building in a largely residential block of Upper Manhattan in New York.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index lost 0.9 percent at 3,065.46 points.
Continued tensions in Ukraine also hit sentiment, as European Union states agreed the wording of sanctions on Russia, including travel restrictions and asset freezes against those responsible for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine.
Shares of companies most exposed to Russia were among the biggest losers, with Finnish tyre maker Nokian Renkaat down 2.7 percent, Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International dropping 2.8 percent, and Danish brewer Carlsberg losing 1 percent.
The three firms derive 26 percent, 22 percent and 17 percent respectively of their revenues from Russia, according to data from MSCI.
Gold surged 1.3 percent, hitting a near six-month high as fears of more corporate defaults in China and the tug-of-war between Russia, Ukraine and the West boosted bullion's appeal.
Spot gold gained 1.3 percent to $1,367.04 an ounce, having reached $1,370.60, the loftiest since Sept. 20
Oil prices declined, with US crude oil falling by more than 2 percent in its biggest drop in two months, after the United States announced unexpected plans for a test release of strategic oil reserves while weekly data showed a big rise in crude stockpiles.
Brent crude fell 53 cents to settle at $108.02 and US oil futures dropped $2.04 to settle at $97.99.