US stocks rally on ebbing fears over Ukraine

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in New York City. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks cheered Russia's more conciliatory posture on Ukraine on Tuesday (Feb 15), rallying after three straight negative sessions.

All three major indices finished solidly higher, while oil prices retreated, as Russia said it had undertaken a partial pullback of troops from the Ukrainian border.

Western leaders applauded the statement, but called for verification.

US President Joe Biden said that a Russian attack on Ukraine remains "very much" a possibility, but that a diplomatic solution to the crisis could yet be reached.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.2 per cent to 34,988.84.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.6 per cent to 4,471.07, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 2.5 per cent to 14,139.76.

The Russians "said they were going to pull troops back but nobody said they have actually seen them pulling troops back," said LBBW's Karl Haeling.

"But sometimes the market knows what's going on and the fact that crude oil sold off as much, people have the feeling beyond those official statements that they really aren't going to go in."

Besides Ukraine, stocks have been under pressure because of worries over the dramatic shift in Federal Reserve monetary policy to address inflation.

The Labour Department reported its producer price index rose 1 per cent, seasonally adjusted, in January, twice what analysts had forecast.

Among individual companies, Marriott International jumped 5.7 per cent as the hotel chain reported US$468 million (S$630 million) in quarterly profits, up from a loss in the year-ago period as revenues more than doubled on the shifting Covid-19 pandemic.

Tower Semiconductor surged 42.1 per cent as it announced a deal to be acquired by Intel for US$5.4 billion. Intel gained 1.8 per cent.

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