Asian markets slide as Ukraine crisis escalates

 
Guy Bentley
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Asian markets have fallen to their lowest point in four weeks, as tensions remain high in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

On Monday, Kiev said four Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and an army helicopter had been shot down close to the city of Sloviansk.

The following day 30 pro-Russian separatists were reported to have been killed in some of the most intense fighting seen since the crisis began.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, has ruled out further talks in Switzerland unless pro-Russian groups within Ukraine were included.

The US recovery has so far failed to dampen investors concerns over the slowdown of Chinese growth, with the world's second largest economy posting a slower than expected expansion in the services sector.

Investors will be keeping a close eye on the congressional testimony of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, who is expected to maintain the central bank's dovish stance and give little away in terms of the timing of an interest rate rise.

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, last night revealed plans for one of the biggest stock market floats in history. The company is expected to raise between $15bn and $20bn through the sale of a 12 per cent stake when it floats in the US.

Japan's Nikkei is down 2.3 per cent, while the Topix has also taken a beating falling by 2.2 per cent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index has dipped by 0.8 per cent, with South Korea's Kospi suffering a similar decline of 0.9 per cent. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is down 0.4 per cent.