Stock futures shrug off Crimea vote

3:49 AM, Mar 17, 2014   |    comments
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(USATODAY.com) - Investors were mostly shrugging off a weekend vote in which Crimeans opted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

Ahead of Monday's opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average index futures fell 0.1%, Standard & Poor's 500 index futures declined 0.3% and Nasdaq index futures added 0.02%.

The referendum was widely condemned by Western leaders and U.S. and Europe have threatened Russia with sanctions should it annex Crimea and President Obama and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.

Fears about regional instability did not, however, translate strongly into investor pessimism in Asia.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.4% to 14,277.67. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.9% to 2,021.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.2% to 21,488.70.

"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 U.S. Treasurys will also gain.

Russia's benchmark Micex index was pushing higher Monday, rallying for the first time in five days. The Micex rose around 1%. Russian bonds and the ruble currency were stable.

On Friday, the Dow dropped 0.3% to 16,065.67. The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 1,841.13 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 0.4% to 4,245.40.

Oil prices rose. Benchmark crude for April delivery gained 5 cents to $98.61 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to settle at $98.20 on Friday.

Contributing: Associated Press

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