HONG KONG (AFP) – Markets mostly rose yesterday as investors assess the situation in Ukraine after the West said Russia had not started withdrawing troops from its border, while minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting eased concerns it was set to hike rates sharply.
Meanwhile, oil prices slipped on further signs of a breakthrough in Iran nuclear talks.
Global equities were sent plunging and crude surged after a top US official said Russia could invade Ukraine imminently, but Moscow appeared to soothe those fears on Tuesday by saying it had started withdrawing some soldiers.
The announcement and an apparently more conciliatory tone from the Kremlin provided a much-needed lift to markets.
However, while the general mood on trading floors was upbeat that tensions had eased, Washington dismissed the Russian claims and accused it of sending more soldiers, adding there were “indications they could launch a false pretext at any moment to justify an invasion”.
That came after NATO joined Ukraine in saying there was no sign of any retreat, while chief Jens Stoltenberg said tensions in the east with Russia were “the new normal in Europe”.
Asia enjoyed a broadly positive day yesterday, though confidence was knocked when reports said Russian separatists in Ukraine said the country’s forces had fired at them – highlighting the tense climate in the area.