* Putin comments on Ukraine may ease geopolitical tensions
* Gold prices decline, U.S. dollar index edges up
* Yellen says U.S. economy needs support, cites geopolitical
(Updates to afternoon U.S. trading)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, May 7 Stock markets around the world
were mostly flat on Wednesday as investors digested comments
from Russian President Vladimir Putin that indicated a possible
easing to geopolitical concerns over Ukraine that have recently
weighed on investors.
Gold, viewed as a safe-haven asset, fell 0.8 percent, while
the U.S. dollar rose slightly against a basket of currencies,
though it remained near a six-month low.
Market participants also paid close attention to testimony
from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who said the U.S.
economy was still in need of support from the central bank given
the "considerable slack" in the labor market. She also cited the
housing sector and geopolitical tensions as issues of concern.
That the Fed sees a need for more accommodation "may mean
the economy isn't recovering as much as we were expecting," said
Eric Green, senior portfolio manager at Penn Capital Management
Putin said he was ready to discuss a way out of the
Ukrainian crisis and called on separatists in east Ukraine to
postpone a May 11 referendum on the status of the mostly
"We need confidence that the Russia situation remains
isolated; getting that would do a lot to stabilize the market.
Of course, anything that suggests more escalation is on the way
would be a real negative," said Green, who helps oversee about
$7.5 billion in assets.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 81.98 points,
or 0.50 percent, at 16,483.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 2.34 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,870.06. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 46.77 points, or 1.15
percent, at 4,033.99.
The Nasdaq was pressured by Whole Foods Market Inc,
which plummeted more than 20 percent to $38.06 on disappointing
results, and by Yahoo Inc, which lost 5.6 percent at
$34.47. The Dow gained on strength in UnitedHealth Group
, which added 1.9 percent following positive results from
peer company Humana Inc.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up
4/32, the yield at 2.5788 percent. The U.S. dollar index
rose 0.08 percent against a basket of currencies. Both the yen
and euro were flat against the dollar.
European shares rose 0.1 percent after trading
lower earlier in the session. The MSCI International ACWI Price
Index fell 0.18 percent.
Oil prices rose, underpinned by tensions in Ukraine, though
Brent's premium over U.S. prices narrowed after an industry
report showed a sharp draw in inventories in the world's largest
oil consumer. U.S. crude futures rose 1.0 percent to
$100.50 while Brent crude was up 0.6 percent.
(Editing by Dan Grebler)