Wall St buoyed by signs of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks


U.S. stock indexes rose on Tuesday, boosted by signs of progress in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to end their weeks-long conflict.

Moscow has decided to drastically cut military activity around Kyiv and northern Ukraine, while Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status but with international guarantees that it would be protected from attack.

The proposals lifted risk sentiment, with European stocks rallying and gold prices falling more than 1% to a one-month low. Brent crude prices dropped to $107 a barrel.

“It’ll drive optimism (in stock markets) because it shows that both sides are talking and as a result that there will likely be some sort of conclusion in the near term,” said CFRA Research’s chief investment strategist Sam Stovall.

Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility index, slipped to 19.30 points, its lowest since mid-January.

However, the main indexes came off early highs as oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp fell more than 2% each, while the broader S&P 500 energy declined 2.3%.

The materials index, which includes miners and chemical companies, dipped 0.4%.

Russia’s invasion, which began on Feb. 24, has fueled a rally in commodity and metal prices, triggering concerns about surging inflation at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks withdraw stimulus put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. consumer confidence edged higher in March from a year-low reading a month earlier, with Americans’ assessment of current economic conditions improving on the back of a healthy job market, offsetting concerns over inflation that have further darkened their outlook.

While all the three major U.S. indexes are on course to end March higher, they are set to record their worst quarter since the first three months of 2020 when the pandemic wreaked havoc on financial markets.

At 10:26 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 177.91 points, or 0.51%, at 35,133.80, the S&P 500 was up 19.43 points, or 0.42%, at 4,594.95, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 86.86 points, or 0.61%, at 14,441.76.

Strong economic data and gains in megacap stocks have supported a recent recovery in U.S. stocks, even as bond markets flash signals of a possible recession.

The spread between U.S. 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields narrowed below six basis points, moving another step closer to inversion, as traders bet that faster rate hikes would hurt the U.S. economy over the longer term.

Tesla slipped 1.4% after rallying in the previous session following news about stock split plans. Other megacap companies like Meta Platforms Inc, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc gained between 0.7% and 1.1%.

FedEx Corp gained 3.8% after naming its operating chief, Raj Subramaniam, as chief executive officer. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.87-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.82-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 44 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 49 new highs and 23 new lows.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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