London morning espresso

* FT News **

* Crimea poll leaves Moscow isolated | Peninsula pressed ahead with a referendum condemned in the west but still set to deliver a big majority in favour of joining Russia

* Ukraine mobilises troops in east | Country prepares for broader invasion by neighbour, with defence minister claiming that Moscow has sent 60,000 soldiers to its borders

* Crimea worries erode Asia risk appetite | Stocks remained under pressure after Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in a referendum condemned by the EU and US as illegal

* More countries join hunt for missing jet | All right, good night: pilot’s last words to Malaysian air traffic control came after crucial communications and reporting system was disabled

* Copper miners eye increase in output | Prices for the red metal tumbled last week to the lowest level since 2010, amid signs of sluggish demand and the building up of inventories in China

* China reveals new urbanisation blueprint | An estimated 100m people to be added to the country’s urban population over the next seven years, as Beijing spends on infrastructure to support growth

* Toyota locks out workers at India plants | Toyota’s India subsidiary suspends production at two of its plants amid worsening relations after a breakdown in wage negotiations

* Dubai agrees refinancing deal | The emirates’ central bank confirms it has extended the maturities of Dubai’s $20bn in bonds and loans for five years at interest rates of 1%

* Africa hits bump on road to prosperity | Growing pains are troubling the blossoming sub-Saharan markets, where complex economic trends are posing challenges for policy makers

* Renminbi needs more than wider corridor | Greater two-way trading within doubled trading band is unlikely unless China’s central bank steps back from managing the currency on a daily basis

* Alibaba aims for $15bn in US listing | Hotly anticipated offering could surpass the size of Facebook listing in 2012 and underlines the global ambitions of the Chinese ecommerce group

* Sina Weibo looks to raise $700m in IPO | Weibo filed documents with the SEC for a listing designed to take advantage of US investors’ appetite for Chinese internet companies

** FT Opinion **

- We must stop pussyfooting around Putin | The Ukrainians are the main obstacle to the Kremlin’s dangerous ambitions – and they must be given all the help that they need

- African banks: Fragile dream | An institution created to embody stability and unity came close to failure at the hands of the very factors it was meant to defeat. The removal of its CEO could provide a second chance

- Venezuela: In search of a solution | Cuba has the most at stake in helping its closest ally find a peaceful resolution to violent protests that have brought parts of the country to a standstill

- China pollution: Trouble in the air | Roused by public protests and air-quality tweets from the US embassy, China has vowed to challenge the growth-at-any-cost model

** BB recent & required reading **

- On a wing and a prayer over Argentina debt | What a headache debts can cause. No one knows this better than Cristina Fernández, who after receiving mixed messages related to Argentina’s debt in recent days will have plenty to chew over on her transatlantic flight before she meets the Pope on Monday. There was good news today when the Paris Club, a group of countries which Argentina owes about $10bn, invited their debtor to begin formal negotiations in May, after economy minister Axel Kicillof presented a repayment plan in January. Resolution of the Paris Club problem is not only a prerequisite for Argentina’s return to the international capital markets, but it could also help to get much-needed foreign investment flowing back into the country.

- Guest post: Ukraine rushing full pelt towards catastrophe | By Ben Aris of bne Crimea is due to hold a referendum this weekend that will probably result in the Russophile region breaking away from the rest of Ukraine, with terrible consequences for Russia’s relations with the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, the EU is pelting full speed towards disaster. The interim Maidan government said it would likely sign off as soon as next week on the Association Agreement that Viktor Yanukovich, then Ukraine’s president, failed to sign in November. These momentous decisions are equally illegitimate.

- Russia holds rates as alarm rises over Ukraine | What price an invasion? Rising alarm at the stand-off between Russia and the west over Ukraine is feeding straight through to Russian assets including the rouble, equities, bonds and CDS spreads. So it was little surprise that Russia’s central bank decided on Friday that its “temporary” sharp hike in interest rates this month was not so temporary after all.

- India elections: the return of Hitler | What is it about Adolf Hitler and India? I thought it was the British who were uniquely persistent in their post-war obsession with the Nazi dictator. (Humourist Alan Coren entitled one of his books Golfing for Cats and put a Nazi flag on the cover because he had learned that golf, cats and Nazis were the three topics that sold well.) The approach of the Indian general election, however, has demonstrated that today’s Indian politicians are as eager as the British to talk about Hitler.

** Markets: down **

Emerging Markets
MSCI Emerging Market Index – up 0.26% at 940

FTSE – (Friday) down -0.40% at 6,527
FTSEurofirst 300 (Friday) down 0.7% at 1,284

DJIA (Friday) down -1.41% at 16,109
S&P 500 (Friday) down -1.17% at 1,846
Bovespa down (Friday) -0.91% at 45,444

Nikkei 225 down -0.21% at 14,279
Topix down -0.84% at 1,154
Hang Seng down -0.25% at 21,484.

Shanghai Composite down -0.64% at 2,017.

CNX Nifty – closed.

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