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Global stocks mixed as Ukraine talks appear to progress

BEIJING (AP) – European markets opened lower while Asian stocks advanced yesterday as investors saw signs of possible progress in talks on ending Russia’s war on Ukraine.

London and Frankfurt declined. Shanghai and Hong Kong gained while Tokyo retreated. Oil rose more than USD2 per barrel.

Wall Street futures were lower after United States (US) stocks gained yesterday following Russia’s announcement it would scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and a northern city.

“This was a nice add-on catalyst” to a market rally already under way, said Clifford Bennett of ACY Securities in a report.

In early trading, London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.1 per cent to 7,529.06 and the DAX in Frankfurt sank 1.3 per cent to 14,631.35. The CAC 40 in Paris shed one per cent to 6,720.90.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.4 per cent.

On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent and the Dow advanced 1 per cent. The Nasdaq composite added 1.8 per cent. More than 85 per cent of the stocks in the S&P 500 rose. Tech and communication stocks helped power the rally, along with big retail chains, automakers and other companies that rely on consumer spending. Apple rose 1.9 per cent and Netflix added 3.5 per cent. Ford Motor climbed 6.5 per cent and General Motors gained 4.6 per cent.

A bank employee walks by screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index in Seoul. PHOTO: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 24 attack on Ukraine rattled global markets that already were on edge about higher US interest rates and a Chinese economic slowdown.

At peace talks in Turkey, Ukraine’s delegation laid out a framework under which the country would declare itself neutral and its security would be guaranteed by an array of other nations.

The Russian Deputy Defence Minister, Alexander Fomin, said Moscow would “cut back military activity” near Kyiv and Chernihiv but gave no details. President Joe Biden said he wasn’t convinced that would lead to a fundamental shift in the war.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose two per cent to 3,266.60, rebounding from the previous day’s loss after Shanghai, China’s most populous city, closed most businesses to fight coronavirus outbreaks.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 0.8 per cent to 28,027.25 after the government reported on February retail sales declined by a bigger-than-forecast 0.8 per cent.

That left retail spending down two per cent from its November peak.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.4 per cent to 22,232.03 and the Kospi in Seoul added 0.2 per cent to 2,746.74. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.7 per cent to 7,514.50.

India’s Sensex rose one per cent to 58,529.58. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets
also rose.

Benchmark US crude surged USD2.21 to USD106.45 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, gained USD2.01 to USD109.72 per barrel in London.

The dollar declined to JPY121.58 from Tuesday’s JPY122.91. The euro rose to USD1.1153 from USD1.1089.

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