Ukraine crisis propels gold back over $1,300
London (May 2) The price of gold surged Friday, up about $15 an ounce to $1299 on close due to renewed tensions in Ukraine.
- Pro-Russian demonstrations erupted in Odessa, with a trade union building seized. There were reports of deaths in clashes with police and among those trying to escape the trade union building, which was on fire.
- The Ukraine defence ministry confirmed two Mi-24 attack helicopters were shot down and that airmen were killed and injured, the Guardian reported. The losses came as part of a Ukraine assault on pro-Russian held enclaves in the country's East. In response to the assault, a Russian spokesperson said it was the "the last nail in the coffin" on a protestor-disarmament deal Ukraine and Russia had earlier agreed to, according to CNN.
- Mid-Friday U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference. Obama condemned the violence, and as before, cast doubt on the spontaneous nature of the pro-Russian demonstrators and militants. The Guardian quoted Obama as saying, "Generally protesters ... do not have the ability" to shoot down helicopters.
- President Obama and Chancellor Merkel discussed the possibility of further sanctions - round three - with the possibility of "sectoral" sanctions on the table especially if late May elections in Ukraine were disrupted. "This is not necessarily what we want but we're ready, and prepared," the Guardian quoted Merkel as saying as regards sectoral sanctions. It was not clear what sector the West might hit, though Obama took energy - critical to Europe - off the table.