World Stock markets soar despite Russia sanctions …

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Investors brushed aside the latest sanctions on Russia, sending stock markets around the world higher on April 29th 2014 in the run-up to a wide array of potentially big economic news events later this week.

The European Union released the names of 15 new people it is targeting for sanctions because of their roles in the Ukraine crisis, a day after the U.S. decided to broaden its own sanctions to include seven Russian government officials and 17 companies with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 1 percent at 6,769.91 while Germany’s DAX rose 1.5 percent to 9,584.12. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.8 percent higher at 4,497.68.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.5 percent at 16,531 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 1,877.

Investors have one eye on economic developments later in the week, notably on Wednesday, when the U.S. Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting. The consensus in the markets is that policymakers are expected to further trim the central bank’s bond-buying program.

Further U.S. data reports are also in store, with first quarter preliminary economic figures on Thursday and payroll data on Friday. Also out Thursday is Chinese manufacturing data for April, which will provide an update on conditions in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Earlier, in Asia, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose to 5,554.50 early in the session, its highest since June 2008, before reversing course and finishing 0.9 percent lower at 5,486.60.

Trading was thin in Asia because markets were closed for a holiday in regional heavyweight Japan. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.2 percent to close at 1,964.77 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 1.4 percent to end at 22,453.89. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China climbed 0.8 percent to 2,020.34.

In other markets, the euro was down 0.3 percent at $1.3810 while a barrel of benchmark New York crude rose $1.02 to $101.85.

European stocks rose to a three-week high as companies from Deutsche Bank to Statoil reported earnings that beat estimates.

Markets were also buoyed by the release of economic data in the UK, where GDP estimates showed its economy expanded 3.1 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter. This missed estimates slightly, but was the biggest annual increase since the fourth quarter of 2007 and showed enough momentum to satisfy investors.

US Equity values rose in early trading as internet stocks rallied for the first time in five days and results from companies including Merck and Sprint topped estimates ahead of a Federal Reserve decision on monetary policy.

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