European markets head for mixed open amid Ukraine-Russia tensions

LONDON – European stocks are expected to open in mixed territory on Thursday as tensions remain high over the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The UK’s FTSE index is seen opening 26 points higher at 7,353, Germany’s DAX 27 points lower at 13,923, France’s CAC 40 down 27 points at 13,923 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 51 points higher at 24,400, according to data from IG.

The mixed open for European stocks comes amid heightened fears for Ukraine’s future with more reports of explosions in the capital Kyiv overnight.

Earlier this week a huge column of Russian military vehicles was making its way towards the capital prompting concerns that Russia would soon launch a large-scale attack on the city.

Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, suffered heavy bombardment on Wednesday, while Kherson’s mayor said Russian forces have seized control of the key port city in southern Ukraine. If confirmed, it marks a military victory for Russia.

Russia’s week-long invasion was denounced by the United Nations in a historic vote and dozens of countries referred Moscow to be probed for potential war crimes.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were largely higher in Thursday trading after US stocks bounced back on Wednesday although US stock index futures were modestly lower during overnight trading.

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Oil prices, however, continued to move higher following a price surge in recent days. In the morning of Asia trading hours, international benchmark Brent crude futures surged 3.09% to $ 116.42 per barrel, after earlier rising as high as $ 118.22 per barrel. US crude futures also climbed 2.43% to $ 113.29 per barrel.

OPEC and its allies decided Wednesday to hold production steady despite the recent dramatic spike in oil prices.

Earnings come from Merck, Telecom Italia, Prudential and Aviva. Data releases include the euro zone unemployment rate and producer prices for January.

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– CNBC’s Eustance Huang contributed to this market report.

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