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World stocks mostly down on Ukraine, Iraq jitters

World stocks sank Friday as jitters over the crises in Iraq and Ukraine escalated, but Chinese stocks rose after surprisingly strong growth in exports.

Futures augured a down session on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 0.4 percent at 16,260 and S&P 500 futures lost 0.4 percent to 1,896.80. European shares were down but trimmed their opening losses. Germany's DAX shed 0.8 percent to 8,970.34 and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.3 percent to 4,138.15. London's FTSE 100 retreated 0.6 percent to 6,560.98.

Investors fretted about the effect of Russia's decision to retaliate against sanctions over the Ukraine crisis with a ban on food imports from the West.

Russia's food ban is a “negative for world markets,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. He said the ban would “have the knock on effect of driving down prices in other markets as exporters seek to find new outlets for produce that may otherwise have been sold to Russia.”

Asian stocks were mixed Friday, after U.S. President Barack Obama said he had authorized air strikes against Sunni extremist militants in Iraq as concerns grew about the security situation there.

Tokyo stocks dropped to a two-month low, falling 2.98 percent, or 454.00 points, to close at 14,778.37. Sydney was down 1.34 percent, or 73.7 points, to close at 5,435.3, while Seoul lost 1.14 percent, or 23.41 points, to end at 2,031.10.

Hong Kong fluctuated through afternoon trade before closing down 0.23 percent, or 56.15 points, to 24,331.41.

However, stocks in mainland China bucked the downward regional trend after the world's second-largest economy saw export growth accelerate.

Shanghai closed up 0.31 percent, or 6.76 points, at 2,194.43, and Shenzhen gained 0.68 percent, or 7.91 points, to 1,174.41.

“The market is very thin and highly reactive to overseas inputs,” Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

China's monthly trade surplus jumped to a record US$47.3 billion in July. Exports increased 14.5 percent year-on-year to US$212.9 billion, the General Administration of Customs announced, while imports decreased 1.6 percent to US$165.6 billion.

In Malaysia, the majority shareholder of ailing Malaysia Airlines said the firm is to be de-listed and taken private ahead of a major restructure, following the twin disasters of flights MH370 and MH17.

State investment fund Khazanah Nasional, which owns 70 percent of the carrier, said it would purchase all minority shares in the firm.

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