Asian stocks rise as Ukraine peace talks appear to progress


BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday as talks on ending Russia’s war on Ukraine appeared to make progress.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Tokyo declined. Oil prices advanced less than $1 per barrel.

That followed Russia’s announcement it would scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and another northern city. It came as negotiators meeting in Turkey began to lay out a possible deal to end the five-week-old war.

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

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.7% to 3,258.22, 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 1.1% to 27,926.57 after the government reported February retail sales declined by a bigger-than-forecast 0.8%. That left retail spending down 2% from its November peak.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.3% to 22,210.14 and the Kospi in Seoul added 0.2% to 2,746.20. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.7% to 7,514.50.

India’s Sensex opened up 1.1% to 58,570.98. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also rose.

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

At the meeting 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 defense 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.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.2% to 4,631.60 for its fourth straight daily gain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1% to 35,294.19. The Nasdaq composite added 1.8% to 14,619.64.

More than 85% 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% and Netflix added 3.5%. Ford Motor climbed 6.5% and General Motors gained 4.6%.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 76 cents to $105.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, advanced 67 cents to $108.38 per barrel in London.

The dollar declined to 122.04 yen from Tuesday’s 122.91 yen. The euro rose to $1.1111 from $1.1089.



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