Market Commentary: Scotland and Ukraine drive markets, Apple unveil new products

In Europe stock prices dropped further, their longest streak of losses in five weeks, as the region’s governments weighed tougher sanctions on Russia and as concerns grew that Scotland might cut relations with the UK. U.S. index futures were little changed, while Asian shares fell. Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields rose for the fifth straight session.

As the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Russia remains tense with decisions further sanctions have been proposed and are expected to come into effect in the coming days. Economic weakness in parts of the euro zone add further concerns to the continents future outlook.

Representatives of 28 European Union governments are meeting in Brussels to discuss tougher economic sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The talks follow the EU’s decision this week to put on hold a second package of economic penalties. T

he proposals include barring some Russian state-owned defense and energy companies from raising capital in the EU, according to an official who spoke on the usual condition of anonymity. Gazprom are expected to raise capital through private placement.

In the U.K., opinion polls indicate that the result of the referendum on Scottish independence is too close to call, with the Nationalists pushing for a yes vote having a slight edge. In view of this markets are bracing themselves for the eventuality that the union between Scotland and the United Kingdom could come to an end.  The pound has fallen, as have shares in businesses with large Scottish markets.

Sports Direct said revenue and profit at its premium-lifestyle and brands divisions decreased in the quarter through July 27, as England’s defeat in the World Cup offset some stronger weeks for sales. The share price fell 3.3 percent to 696.5 pence.

Apple introduced the much awaited products which received mixed reviews.

The most significant new phone feature was Apple Pay, a near-field-communication-based payment system built into the new phones. The feature turns the iPhone into a one-touch payment system, keeping a user's various debit and credit card details within the phone. Several major retailers have already agreed to accept Apple Pay, including Mc donalds, Whole Foods, Starbucks and Disney.

Apple also unveiled its Apple Watch. Besides the obvious of telling the time the device acts as a new platform for storing and displaying photos, maps, health and fitness information. The device integrates Siri, the company's voice-activated interface, into its functionality.

The company's stock was up by nearly 2.5 percent near the end of the presentation, contrary to most Apple-product-unveiling days, when the company's stock tends to drop. It later was trading slightly below its opening price. Volume was three times normal.

This article was issued by Calamatta Cuschieri, visit www.cc.com.mt for more information.

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