Stocks down on worries about China, Ukraine

Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Global stock markets mostly fell Monday amid worries over the crisis in Ukraine and after a survey showed Chinese manufacturing shrank in April for the fourth month in a row.

The threat of further sanctions against Russia from the U.S. and the European Union has periodically unsettled markets over the past few weeks, although so far the measures have targeted individuals and not entire Russian industries. Worries over the Chinese economy, the world's No. 2, have also been one of the main drivers across markets this year.

"Financial markets begin the week, clouded by concerns over the situation in Ukraine, and a slightly deeper-than-previously-estimated contraction in China's manufacturing sector," said Jennifer Lee, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 1.35 percent to 9426.9 while France's CAC 40 was off 1.1 percent at 4408.29 after a weekend full of disquieting news from the conflict between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Russian separatists. Separatists stormed a police station in the town of Odessa and freed dozens of allies jailed after clashes that left more than 40 dead. British stock markets were closed for a public holiday.

U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

Earlier in Asia, shares fell after HSBC's index of Chinese factory activity fell short of its already weak preliminary result, stoking fears among investors that the slowdown in the world's second biggest economy is entrenched. The index rose by 0.1 point to 48.1 in April, using a 100-point scale on which readings below 50 indicate contraction. The preliminary index level was 48.3.

Pessimism about China's manufacturing also offset some positive news on U.S. employment that showed employers in the No. 1 economy added more jobs than expected in April, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest in six years.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.3 percent to close at 21,976.33 while the Shanghai Composite in mainland China rallied in the final minutes of trading to finish 0.1 percent higher at 2,027.35.

Trading elsewhere was fairly flat, with the euro steady tat $1.3876 and the dollar 0.2 percent lower at 101.97 yen.

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Chan contributed from Hong Kong.

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