Markets steady but Malaysia jet jitters remain

 

The Associated Press

Markets settled down Friday but jitters over the downing of a Malaysian jetliner over Ukraine remained at the fulcrum of investors' thoughts.

All 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed in Thursday's crash. U.S authorities and aviation experts say the Boeing 777 was likely brought down by a ground-to-air missile, but so far there is no proof of who fired it. Ukraine and the insurgents blame each other.

News of the crash weighed on markets on Thursday and for much of Friday's session before some positive momentum at the U.S. open.

"The Dow Jones retook the 17,000 handle again this afternoon, proving yet again that if traders want to find resilience in this market then they must look to U.S. indices," said Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.2 percent at 6,749.45 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.4 percent to 4,355.31. Germany's DAX bucked the trend to close 0.4 percent lower at 9,720.02.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.6 percent at 17,071 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.7 percent to 1,973.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225, the regional benchmark, tumbled 1 percent to 15,215.71 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 23,454.79. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 2,019.42. China's Shanghai Composite inched up 0.2 percent to 2,059.07.

Malaysia's benchmark stock index fell 0.4 percent to 1,876.21. Shares of Malaysia Airlines plummeted 11 percent. It was the second disaster involving the Malaysian flag carrier this year. On March 8, a Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, spawning an international mystery that remains unsolved.

Oil prices settled after rising strongly on Thursday, with the benchmark New York rate up 3 cents at $103.22 a barrel. Among currencies, the euro was 0.1 percent lower at $1.3500 while the dollar rose 0.2 percent to 101.38 yen.

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