Asian stocks higher on easing of Ukraine tensions

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Ukrainian recruits line up as they receive military instructions from a commander in a recruitment self defense quarter at Kiev’s Independence Square, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow fired warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Ukrainian recruits line up as they receive military instructions from a commander in a recruitment self defense quarter at Kiev’s Independence Square, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow fired warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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TOKYO (AP) — A sense of relief over the easing of tensions in the Ukraine that boosted global stocks overnight lifted shares in Asia in early Wednesday trading.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gained 1.7 percent in the first hour of trading to 14,965.55. The Hang Seng inched up 0.3 percent to 22,727.42. South Korea’s Kospi also rose, adding 0.96 percent to 1,972.71 in early trading.

Better sentiment rushed through global markets overnight as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine to return to their bases. The tensions had set off selling earlier.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 added 1.53 percent, to close at 1,873.91, racking up its biggest gain since October. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 227.85 points, or 1.41 percent, to 16,395.88. The Nasdaq composite rose 74.67 points, or 1.75 percent, to 4,351.97.

Regional traders are focusing on the start of the National People’s Congress in China for signs of the direction of the Chinese economy and growth targets. The Chinese economy remains critical for region growth.

Also helping shares in Asia was a slight recovery in the dollar, which was trading at about 102.13 yen after falling earlier in the week.

Stock markets in Europe, including in Moscow and Asia, already recouped a large chunk — though not all — of Monday’s losses, while commodities like oil and gold, which rose over the tensions as a safer investment, have given back some of those gains.

The turnaround came after Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s eastern border to return to their bases.

The mood was further bolstered when Putin said the situation in Ukrainian region of Crimea did not require military action. He said the recent military moves in Crimea that have effectively seen Russia take control of the peninsula were a humanitarian response, and that Russian military involvement would be a last resort.

“In response, markets are making hay,” said Kathleen Brooks, market analyst at Forex.com. “Stocks are rallying and clawing back yesterday’s losses as the situation stabilizes, making it less likely that a conflict will arise in the near term, at least.”

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 1.6 percent at 6,815 while the CAC-40 in France rose 2.3 percent to 4,389. Germany’s DAX, which underperformed the other two on Monday, was 2.2 percent higher at 9,569.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama

Associated Press

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