Markets boosted by Putin’s comments on Ukraine
Fears over escalating European tensions eased after Russian president’s speech
The curve of the German share price index DAX board is pictured at the Frankfurt stock exchange. Photograph: Reuters
European shares changed course to climb higher in late trading after fears that tensions over Ukraine would escalate were eased when Russian president Vladimir Putin said he did not plan to seize any other regions of the country.
The remarks drove down assets typically sought in times of tension. The price of gold fell and yields on low-risk government bonds, which move inversely to the price, rose. After a strong midday rally, markets closed up around 1 per cent.
Bank of Ireland continued its good performance this week after a subdued finish to last week, with stock closing up 1.6 per cent at 31.4 cent.
Rolling back on Monday’s gains, drinks group C&C was down 2 per cent before announcing it had acquired the remaining 50 per cent stake it didn’t already own in Scottish wine and spirits wholesaler Wallaces Express. Stock recovered somewhat, closing just 1 per cent down at €4.65.
Stocks at exploration company Petroneft closed up 9 per cent after Natlata Partners, a shareholder with more than 10 per cent stock in the company, called for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the removal of five of its directors after the announcement on Monday of a cash raising exercise.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up 0.6 per cent, or 36.93 points, at 6,605.28 points - marking only the second time in the last eight sessions that it has ended in positive territory.
Defence and aerospace company BAE Systems was the best-performing FTSE stock in percentage terms, rising 2.9 per cent after investment bank RBC raised its rating on the stock to “outperform” from “sector perform”.
Markets in London responded positively to Greencore’s announcement about the building of a new factory in Rhode Island in the US, with stocks closing up 1 per cent at £269.50.
In spite of the FTSE’s rebound, the index remains below its 2014 peak of 6,867.42 points in late January.
The European stock market witnessed a relief rally after Putin, defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, signed a treaty making Crimea part of Russia but said he did not plan any further expansion.
Russia’s stock market, hammered in the run-up to the Crimean referendum last week, rose 1.9 per cent, though the rouble edged down to 36.32 to the dollar.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.7 per cent higher at 1,306.11 points, recovering from an earlier session low of 1,290.28.
Around Europe, Italy’s FTSE MIB outperformed some major markets and was 0.9 per cent higher after hitting a three-year peak earlier in the session as investors bet on an economic recovery in the euro zone’s periphery. Germany’s DAX also rose 0.7 per cent to 9,242.
Sweden’s Kinnevik, an investor in online fashion retailer Zalando, and British clothes chain Next fell 3.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively after below-expectations earnings from UK-listed ASOS darkened the outlook for the sector.
Truck maker Scania fell 2.1 per cent after board members responsible for assessing a takeover bid by Volkswagen for its outstanding shares said the offer was too low and recommended that minority shareholders reject it.
Wall Street advanced for a second straight day, with the benchmark S&P 500 moving within 1 per cent of its record high.
Prices were also boosted after the latest economic data showed US consumer prices rose 0.1 per cent in February, as expected, while housing starts rose modestly from the previous month.
Shares of Microsoft Corp were up 4.1 per cent to $39.61 after hitting a 52-week high of $39.90, making the stock the S&P 500’s biggest percentage advancer. It was the biggest daily advance for the software giant since November.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 107.19 points or 0.66 percent, to 16,354.41, the S&P 500 gained 13.95 points or 0.75 percent, to 1,872.78 and the Nasdaq Composite added 53.093 points or 1.24 percent, to 4,333.042.
Hertz Global Holdings said it would spin off its equipment rental business for $2.5 billion and use part of the proceeds to fund a stock buyback programme. Shares edged up 0.8 percent to $27.43.
GameStop Corp shares fell 3.5 per cent to $38.34 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would allow shoppers to trade in used video games for anything from groceries to gadgets.