Stocks Jump as Geopolitical Pressure Eases

By MarketsFOXBusiness

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

U.S. equity markets advanced solidly on Tuesday after Russia's president said he doesn't plan on splitting Ukraine, helping ease worries about Eastern Europe.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 89 points, or 0.55%, to 16336, the S&P 500 advanced 13.4 points, or 0.72%, to 1872 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 53.4 points, or 1.3%, to 4333.

The markets kicked off the week in rally mode, with the broad S&P 500 jumping nearly 1% in its best day in more than two weeks. The gains were driven by optimism sanctions on Russia over its plans to annex Ukrainian region Crimea appeared to be light enough that they would not dramatically hurt large multi-national companies.

That enthusiasm pervaded into Tuesday, after Russia President Vladimir Putin said he isn't planning on snagging a broader swath of Ukraine. International players like the U.S. have said Putin's plans to take over the Crimea -- a predominantly Russian region -- are illegal, but he said a weekend referendum met international standards. Still, a pledge that might halt a broader conflict calmed Wall Street's nerves.

Also on the European front, the Zew survey on German investor confidence stumbled to its lowest level since August. The gauge is closely watched since it measures optimism in the continent's biggest economy.

Elsewhere in economic news, the Commerce Department reported starts of new home construction fell 0.2% in February to an annualized rate of 907,000, missing estimates of 910,000. Permits to build new homes, meanwhile, rose 7.7% in the same month, to an annualized rate of 1.02 million, beating Wall Street views of 960,000.

Economists are broadly expecting the sector to bounce back from what they see as temporary headwinds.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said consumer prices rose 0.1% in February, matching Wall Street views. Excluding the food and energy components, prices rose by the same margin, also matching estimates. There have been concerns among policymakers that low or falling inflation could hinder economic growth. Indeed, the Federal Reserve has explicitly said it would like to boost inflation to a year-over-year rate of 2%.

The Fed started its two-day policy setting meeting on the day that will end Wednesday with a decision and media conference from chair Janet Yellen. Economists expect the central bank to continue trimming back its bond purchases and maintain benchmark interest rates at record lows.

"Under our forecast, the Fed’s exit from its current highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will be a long time in coming," economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a note to clients. "We continue to expect [first quarter 2016] as the 'liftoff date' for the fed funds target rate."

On the corporate front, Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) post quarterly earnings after the closing bell. GameStop (NYSE:GSE) shares plunged after Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) said it would allow customers to begin trading in video games for gift cards to use at the world's largest retailer.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures climbed $1.62, or 1.7%, to $99.70 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 0.75% to $2.903 a gallon. Gold dropped $13.90, or 1%, to $1,359 a troy ounce.

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