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Shares drop as burning Ukrainian nuclear plant spooks traders across Europe

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uropean markets on Friday reacted with horror to the fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant amid shelling by Russia in the area.

Although the situation is reportedly under control, stock indexes were down across the continent, with London’s top index, the FTSE 100, dropping to its lowest point since October on the news.

The index dropped by as much as 3.2% on Friday morning, retreating to less than 7,004 points – perilously close to the symbolic 7,000-point mark.

“Investors have been rattled by the turn of the fighting in Ukraine, after a nuclear plant was attacked which has heightened worries about the potential escalation of the crisis,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The flight to safety is continuing on the financial markets as investors exit positions they see as more risky, and pile into other asset classes which they hope may offer some more defence against the volatility.

“Just over a week on from invasion, shockwaves are still sending repercussions across the world with many commodities shooting up to record levels and others to a price not seen in more than a decade.”

The worst performers on the FTSE 100 included some of the index’s travel companies, but ITV was also hit for the second day running after investors baulked at the level of investment it plans to put into a new digital offering.

In Europe both the main French and German indexes were heavily down, dropping significantly more than 3% at around 10.30am on Friday.

US markets had not opened yet.

Oil prices remained high, at 112 dollars for a barrel of Brent crude – it is still below the nearly 120 dollars that a barrel cost at one point on Thursday.

But it adds to the soaring cost of living, with prices of other commodities that come out of Russia and Ukraine – such as wheat – soaring in recent weeks.

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