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Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains as Ukraine concerns ease

Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains as Ukraine concerns ease

Wall Street gained on Thursday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a two-week high, after conciliatory comments from Russia helped ease concerns about escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and offset some uninspiring earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62 points, or 0.37%, to close at 16,714. The S&P 500 gained eight points, or 0.43%, to finish at 1,955. The Nasdaq Composite added 19 points, or 0.43%, to end at 4,453.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would stand up for itself but not at the cost of confrontation with the outside world, striking a softer tone after tough rhetoric aimed at Ukraine for several months.

Data today showed applications for unemployment benefits in the US rose more than forecast last week. Jobless claims climbed by 21,000 to 311,000 in the period ended 9 August, the highest in six weeks, a Labour Department report said.

Gains were broad, led by healthcare stocks. An index of energy stocks dragged, slipping 0.5%.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), US’ largest retailer, reported earnings and revenue that met expectations. But the company cut its forecast for coming quarters. The Dow component's stock rose 0.5%.

Shares of Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), another Dow component, fell 2.6%. The network equipment maker gave a tepid outlook for its current quarter and announced massive job cuts despite reporting revenue that beat expectations.

Shares of Boeing Co (BA.N) jumped 1.7%, making it the Dow's second-biggest gainer. The company said demand for its commercial jetliners was very strong and signalled it is getting close to deciding whether to further accelerate output.

The price of Berkshire Hathaway Inc's (BRKa.N) Class A stock crossed $200,000 for the first time on Thursday in the latest milestone for the company that Warren Buffett built over nearly five decades. Berkshire Hathaway closed at $202,850, up 1.8% on the New York Stock Exchange.

After the bell, shares of Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) fell 1.7%. The upscale department store chain, known for its selection of fashion labels and customer service, reported second-quarter earnings in line with expectations and a 3% increase in same-store sales.

In Asia, shares were little changed in late morning trade as investors weighed reports Ukraine tensions are easing and weak economic data that fueled bets central banks will maintain stimulus.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded at 148 as of 9:50 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index fell 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index both rose 0.3%. Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 0.3% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index advanced 0.1%. Markets in South Korea and India are closed.

The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 0.3%.

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