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Wall Street ends lower on jitters over weekend’s Crimea vote

March 14. 2014 9:34PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Wall Street ended lower Friday, with all three major stock indexes down for the week, as concerns over tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated ahead of a referendum in Crimea this weekend.

The S&P 500 ended below a key technical support level of 1,850 for the second day. The index also ended down 2 percent for the week, its biggest weekly loss since late January.

Moscow shipped more troops and armor into Crimea on Friday and repeated its threat to invade other parts of Ukraine in response to violence in Donetsk on Thursday, despite Western demands to pull back.

Global equity markets were pressured, while gold and the yen strengthened as traders flocked into the safe-haven assets. The CBOE Volatility index VIX, Wall Street’s so-called fear gauge, rose 9.9 percent to 17.82.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia were “the primary drag on equities and risk assets this week,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Ala.

“The referendum this weekend, and what the response from the rest of the world and Russia will be to that,” create a lot of uncertainty, Hellwig said.