* Stocks steady after two days of sharp moves
* Yen's gains unravel after Putin tones down rhetoric
* Russian shares, rouble fight back after early wobble
* Focus shifts to ECB on Thursday, U.S. jobs on Friday
* ADP figures softer than expected
By Marc Jones
LONDON, March 5 A semblance of calm returned to
world markets on Wednesday after two days of intense volatility
with the United States and Russia set to hold talks on easing
East-West tension in Ukraine.
The West is stepping up efforts to persuade Moscow to pull
its forces back in Crimea and avert the risk of a war. Russian
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that military force
would only be used as a last resort.
European shares, which surged more than 2 percent
on Tuesday to spur a global rebound, traded almost sideways as
currency and bond markets also stabilised.
Russian stocks and the rouble fought off early
weakness as investors decided Moscow was dialling down the
intensity of its rhetoric over Ukraine, though Wall Street
futures trimmed gains as soft ADP jobs data dampened
expectations for Friday's non-farm payrolls figures.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin said he did not want
political tension to detract from economic cooperation with its
"Things are indeed calming down in Ukraine," said Steen
Groendahl, head of global research at Nordea in Helsinki.
"Quite honestly markets have taken this in their stride.
There was a knee jerk reaction on Monday but since then it has
sort of been smooth sailing."
The relative calm in Crimea allowed attention in Europe to
drift back towards Thursday's meeting of the European Central
The euro tip-toed lower to $1.3726 having dipped
overnight. Benchmark Bunds lost ground as the German bond
market's general safe-haven appeal waned.
ECB policymakers remain under pressure to either cut
interest rates again or use additional unconventional measures
to fend off the threat of ultra-low inflation turning into
something more damaging.
Analysts at Citi said in a note that their base-case
expectation was that the bank would cut rates by 15 basis points
to 0.10 percent, but many others think it will hold fire for
Revised PMI data on Wednesday showed euro zone firms enjoyed
their fastest growth rate in over 2-1/2 years last month though
the gulf between growth in Germany and the decline in France
continued to temper the mood.
"Regional divergences remain a concern," said Chris
Williamson, chief economist at survey compiler Markit.
German sports giant Adidas underscored the
difficulties that emerging market turbulence is causing for some
firms as it warned tumbling currencies such as Russia's rouble
would take a heavy toll on its profits.
The tensions between Russia and the West have added extra to
pressure to emerging markets. Some are already struggling to
cope with investors shifting away because the U.S. Federal
Reserve is reducing its flow of cheap funding.
"The big question we are all thinking about is when to go
back into emerging markets," said Hans Peterson, global head of
asset allocation at SEB investment management. "It might take a
few more weeks before we see some stability in U.S. data so we
are probably still a bit away from the entry point."
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei climbed 1.2 percent after
the S&P 500's record finish on Tuesday.
In the currency market, the calmer geopolitical view kept
the yen on the back foot after a heavy reversal on Tuesday. The
dollar was last buying 102.48 yen, moving away from a
one-month low of 101.20 hit on Monday, while the euro bought
Further south, the Australian dollar gained to $0.8970 on
revived risk appetite and data showing the country's economic
growth had beaten forecasts.
Australia's major trading partner China also said on
Wednesday it would maintain its economic growth target for 2014
at around 7.5 percent, as expected, and push forward with
convertibility of the yuan.
Analysts said the statement was an indication that China
would widen the yuan's trading band, further signalling a
possible end to the currency's one-way appreciation
On the commodities front, U.S. crude slipped to
$103.00, after falling $1.59 on Tuesday. The contract hit its
highest level since Sept. 20 on Monday at $105.22.
Spot gold, another safe-haven asset that rose on the
flare up in Russia-West tensions, was steady at $1,336.45 in
early European trading an ounce after dropping 1.2 percent on
"Gold is currently very sensitive to geopolitical tensions,"
said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung
"Some kind of pull-back is very possible given the price
gains this year but in the short term it depends on the news