Scoreboard: Ukraine nerves

European markets slipped amid continued tension in Ukraine, while Wall Street lost ground in early trade but fought back to close only slightly lower.

European shares eased on Monday with investors concerned about ongoing tensions between Russia and western nations. Fresh violence has flared up in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell by 0.5 per cent with the German Dax down by 1.1 per cent while the UK FTSE lost 0.3 per cent. Australia's major miners were mixed in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton up by 0.1 per cent while Rio Tinto lost 0.2 per cent.

US sharemarkets fell in early trade before clawing back losses over Monday's session. Traders and investors awaited a bevy of earnings results to be released over the week together with a number of key economic indicators. Shares in fast food companies lost ground after a new food safety scare in China. After being down 126 points in early trade, the Dow Jones index ended lower by 48 points or 0.3 per cent. The S&P 500 index lost 0.2 per cent while the Nasdaq eased by 7.4 points or 0.2 per cent.

US treasury prices were largely flat on Monday with traders biding their time ahead of key economic data to be released later in the week. US 2-year yields were flat at 0.492 per cent while US 10-year yields were down 1 point to 2.473 per cent.

Major currencies were modestly weaker against the US dollar following European and US sessions on Monday. The euro fell from highs near $US1.3545 to around $US1.3515, before ending US trade near $US1.3520. The Aussie dollar eased from lows near US93.95c to lows near US93.70c before ending the US session near US93.75c. And the Japanese yen weakened from 101.21 yen per US dollar to JPY101.39, ending US trade near JPY101.38.

World oil prices rose on Monday on fears of possible disruptions to global oil supplies from geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Brent crude rose by US44c or 0.4 per cent to $US107.68 a barrel and the US Nymex price lifted by $US1.46 a barrel or 1.4 per cent to $US104.59 a barrel. Nymex gained more than the Brent crude quote as traders positioned ahead of contract expiry.

Base metal prices rose by up to 2 per cent on Monday with aluminium and zinc leading the way. Gold prices rose modestly on Monday in response to geopolitical tensions with the Comex gold futures quote up by $US4.50 or 0.3 per cent to $US1,313.90 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US60c on Monday or 0.6 per cent to $US96.00 a tonne.

Ahead: The Reserve Bank Governor delivers a speech. In the US, the Consumer Price Index, the FHFA monthly home price index, existing home sales data and Richmond Federal Reserve index are all released.

Craig James is the chief economist at Commsec.

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