As Ukraine tensions ease, markets buoyant

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Associated Press

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 10:06 AM

LONDON (AP) — Global stocks were buoyant Wednesday as tensions in Ukraine continued to ease and investors anticipated further stimulus measures, particularly from the monetary authorities in China. Further solid U.S. economic data also reinforced hopes over the outlook for the world's largest economy.

With fears over an escalation of the Ukraine crisis ebbing, investors have been trading more on fundamental factors in recent sessions. These include hopes that China will loosen monetary policy amid signs that the world's No. 2 economy is slowing and signals from officials at the European Central Bank that the bank could do more to lower the risks of a debilitating bout of deflation in the 18-country eurozone.

And following strong U.S. consumer confidence data on Tuesday, investors cheered figures Wednesday showing an unexpectedly big 2.2 percent rebound in durable goods orders in February.

"As concerns over a conflict between the West and Russia continue to ease .... investors appear willing to take on a little more risk," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 1.4 percent at 9,469 while France's CAC 40 jumped 1.2 percent to 4,396. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 6,638.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3 percent at 16,410 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,871.

A run of solid U.S. economic data have also underpinned investor sentiment.

Hopes that the U.S. recovery is gaining traction boosted oil prices and a barrel of benchmark crude was up 0.6 percent at $99.82. Elsewhere, trading was lackluster with the euro down 0.3 percent at $1.3789, while the dollar firmed 0.1 percent to 102.38 yen.

Earlier in Asia, investors were hopeful China's monetary authorities would respond to weak economic data by easing monetary conditions. Japan's Nikkei 225, Asia's heavyweight index, added 0.4 percent to 14,477.16 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.7 percent to 21,887.75 and South Korea's Kospi rose 1.2 percent to 1,964.31.

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