US markets ended a disappointing week with more losses on Friday night. The three major US indices each suffered declines of at least two percent for the week.
Tensions flared in the Black Sea after the Russian military boosted its presence in Crimea, which voted on the weekend in favour of seceding from Ukraine and becoming part of the Russian Federation.
With the vote strongly opposed by western powers, investors fear the geopolitical crisis will worsen as the US and its allies impose trade sanctions against Russia.
Also weighing on markets was the lingering concern over China’s economy, and data showing a bigger-than-expected drop in US consumer confidence.
The key commodities defied the negative move in global equities. Gold scored its fifth winning session in a row as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine boosted the precious metals’ investment appeal.
Oil also edged higher, but was still down almost four percent for the week amid concerns global energy demand will falter in the event of a China-led slowdown.
The disappointing consumer confidence read saw the US dollar suffer broad-based declines, whilst the yen benefited from safe-haven flows due to the unfolding situation in Crimea.
In economic developments, new motor vehicle sales data is due for release at 11:30am, AEDT.