Putin comments help markets stage turnaround

18 Mar 2014 0 Comments

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets rose Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to downplay fears that his country was intent on taking over other regions of Ukraine following the effective annexation of Crimea.

Putin’s comments to the Russian Parliament helped support stocks and oil but dragged down the price of gold, a traditional safe haven for investors.

“One thing Putin’s comments do suggest is that the odds of this escalating further have been slashed,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari. “The West may make another attempt at sanctions but based on its first efforts, it’s clearly too afraid to be overly aggressive and provoke a retaliation.”

Having traded lower earlier in the session, European markets ended higher, notably in Moscow, where the RTS index added a further 4.2 percent to Monday’s near 5 percent surge.

Elsewhere in Europe, stock markets had another big day, too. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended 0.6 percent higher at 6,605.28 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent to 9,242.45. The CAC-40 in France ended 1 percent higher at 4,313.26.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was 0.5 percent higher at 16,321 while the broader SP 500 index rose the same rate to 1,868.

Putin’s address follows Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, where a large majority voted in favor of joining Russia. In response, the United States and the European Union imposed limited sanctions on a number of officials they consider to have played a part in what they consider to be an unlawful referendum. Those sanctions met with relief across financial markets as they failed to touch on Russia’s vital economic interests.

The easing in tensions saw gold fall 1 percent to $1,359 an ounce. Gold has regained its luster of late as investors sought it out as a safe haven investment in times of geopolitical distress. Meanwhile, a barrel of benchmark New York crude rose 1.1 percent to $99.16.

As well as monitoring developments in Ukraine and Russia, the focus in global markets is on the policy meeting U.S. Federal Reserve, which concludes Wednesday.

Most economists predict that the Fed will continue trimming its monetary stimulus program at the pace it has already set. It is expected to cut the stimulus by $10 billion for a third time to $55 billion worth of monthly bond purchases.

Earlier in Asia, stocks pushed ahead following the advance the previous day in Europe and the U.S. The Asian heavyweight index, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, rose 0.9 percent to 14,411.27 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent to 2,025.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 percent to 21,583.50.

Elsewhere, the mood was fairly subdued, with the euro down 0.1 percent at $1.3913 and the dollar 0.5 percent lower at 101.31 yen.

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