* Wall Street opens higher, trading less volatile than past
* European, Asian shares at two-week high as Crimea tensions
* Focus on potential China stimulus
* Euro down, bonds up after ECB easing talk
* Emerging-market stocks rise, gold steadies
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, March 26 Global equity markets
advanced on Wednesday as investors left behind concerns about
Ukraine to focus on the potential for fresh stimulus from China,
while the dollar rose on strengthening U.S. economic data.
Gold fell to a 5-week low, giving back early gains, on the
U.S. Treasuries yields were steady ahead of a sale of $35
billion in new supply. Bond traders said investors were
evaluating whether a recent rise in five-year note yields will
offer an attractive return relative to the risks of higher
interest rates from the Federal Reserve.
Russia and the West drew a tentative line under the Ukraine
crisis after U.S. President Barack Obama and his allies agreed
to hold off on more damaging economic sanctions unless Moscow
goes beyond the seizure of Crimea, which Russian President
Vladimir Putin last week said he did not want to do.
The development seemed to limit the odds that the biggest
East-West conflict since the Cold War could escalate further,
removing a potential headwind from markets. While few U.S.
companies have direct exposure to the region, there had been
worries about the fallout of prolonged tension. Russia's Micex
Index rose, gaining 1.9 percent.
"I would be shocked if there was any kind of escalation now,
which eliminates some of the concerns people had and forces the
market to focus back on the economy, where recent data has been
lending credence to the theory that some recent issues were
related to weather, not fundamentals," said Malcolm Polley,
president and chief investment officer of Stewart Capital
Advisors in Indiana, Pennsylvania.
The MSCI emerging equities index rose the most in
almost three weeks, helped by the recovery in Russian stocks and
in Poland and Hungary. Both had been hit by the
With the Crimean crisis dissipating, investors turned toward
China in the hope that Beijing will take steps to bolster its
economy. Many economists expect China's growth to miss the
government's target of 7.5 percent this year in the absence of
effective support measures.
"Investors are betting on stimulus because Chinese
authorities have done everything they could to achieve the
target in the past," said Sho Aoyama, senior market analyst at
On Wall Street, nine of the S&P 500's 10 primary sectors
were up. Markets were more stable than in the previous two
sessions, when biotech and technology shares sold off heavily.
Still, the biggest advancing sectors on the day were healthcare
and telecom, two groups that are considered
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24.70 points,
or 0.15 percent, at 16,392.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 3.51 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,869.13. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 4.77 points, or 0.11
percent, at 4,229.50.
European stocks headed for a second day of gains.
London's FTSE rose 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX
1.2 percent and France's CAC 1.1 percent.
U.S. orders for durable goods rose more than expected in
February, ending two straight months of declines. Separately,
private-sector economic activity accelerated in March at a
faster clip than in February as the services sector picked up,
according to financial data firm Markit's preliminary composite
Purchasing Managers Index.
The stronger U.S. data bolstered the dollar index
while the euro fell on investor caution as European Central Bank
officials ramped up efforts to talk down the currency.
ECB governing council member and Bundesbank chief Jens
Weidmann said negative interest rates were an option to temper
euro strength. He added that quantitative easing was not out of
the question to combat deflation.
The euro traded lower for a second straight day at $1.3790
, not far from the three-week trough of $1.3749 hit on
Tuesday. It was also lower against the yen at 141.08.
In U.S. Treasuries trading, the benchmark 10-year U.S. note
was up 3/32, the yield at 2.7244 percent.
A $32 billion sale of two-year notes on Tuesday drew solid
overall demand, but low bidding from dealers raised concerns
that banks and investors may hesitate to buy debt at risk of
Two- and five-year notes have been the worst performers
since Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last Wednesday the
U.S. central bank could raise interest rates six months after
its current bond-buying program ends, suggesting a potential
rate hike as early as spring of 2015.
In precious metals trading, spot gold was at
$1,303.31 an ounce after plumbing a new 5-week bottom of
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London and Hideyuki
Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Larry King and Dan Grebler)