BUZZ Defence group Thales tops CAC 40 as French blue-chips edge towards worst day since pandemic crash

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** French defence firm Thales is the only riser on France's blue-chip index, up 1% even as European stocks nosedive after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine read more

** The CAC 40 (.FCHI) is down 4.5%, after plummeting over 5% in its biggest crash since March 2020 when the start of the pandemic brought much of Europe to a halt

** Stocks with high exposure to the conflict trail the index, with Societe Generale sinking 11% to the bottom and losing 2.9 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in market value, closely followed by fellow lender BNP Paribas down 8% - both own retail banks in Russia and Ukraine respectively

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** Renault (RENA.PA), which co-owns a stake in Russia's top carmaker Avtovaz (AVAZI_p.MM) and makes a large part of its sales in the country, plunges 8%

** ArcelorMittal (MT.LU), the world's largest steelmaker, also drops 7% as it says in a tweet it will slow down its production in Ukraine to a technical minimum and stop production at its underground mines there

** Jet maker Safran (SAF.PA)falls 7%, while its CEO says there is no immediately available alternative to Russia's Soyuz space launcher and adds it has enough titanium reserves to last for several months - Russia's VSMPO-AVISMA (VSMO.MM) is its largest supplier read more

** Europe's biggest hotel group Accor (ACCP.PA), which owns seven hotels in Ukraine and about 55 in Russia, falls 7% read more

** Alstom , which has a 20% stake in Transmashholding, one of the largest rolling stock makers in Russia and the CIS countries, also dips around 7%

($1 = 0.8962 euros)

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Reporting by Sarah Morland

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