LONDON (AFP) – European stocks slid on Tuesday as nervous investors eyed news that Russia had detected the launch of two missiles in the Mediterranean, amid expectations of Western military action in Syria.
In late morning deals, London’s FTSE 100 index fell 0.31 percent to 6,486.15 points, reversing earlier slender gains.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 0.63 percent to 8,192.38 points and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.62 percent to 3,981.34.
“Investors are running for cover with talk of missile firings being detected from the Mediterranean,” said analyst Mike McCudden at online brokerage Interactive Investor.
“The initial panic appears to have settled but with many investors having a short window to re-evaluate their portfolios we should be in for a bumpy ride today.”
He added, “Speculation that the missiles fired in the East Mediterranean are US test missiles has restored some calm to the markets, but this episode and sharp spike lower serves to highlight the nervous situation playing out in the Middle East will not be going away any time soon.”
Russia announced that its missile early warning system had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.
The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time and were detected by the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.
It said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had already reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.
“The news was characterized by moves towards havens by investors — for example, a brief spike in the gold price — but this has now retrenched slightly,” said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
“The market is likely to remain jittery until the full extent of any action is known,” he told AFP.
Prior to the news, European equities had experienced flat trading as takeover activity in the telecoms sector was offset by investor caution before this week’s interest rate calls.
Finnish telecommunications group Nokia announced the sale of its mobile phone division to Microsoft for 5.44 billion euros ($7.17 billion) on Tuesday.