(Corrects to show housing starts dipped from prior month, not
* Putin tells parliament he does not want more of Ukraine
* Fed in view as two-day meeting set to begin
* General Motors rises after comments from CEO on recalls
* Indexes up: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 18 U.S. stocks rose for a second
straight day on Tuesday, with the S&P moving within 1 percent of
record levels after comments from Russian President Vladimir
Putin eased concerns that tensions over Ukraine might escalate.
In an address to the Russian parliament, Putin said Russia
didn't want Ukraine to be divided further, and that he did not
want to seize more of the country after approving plans to make
Crimea part of Russia following a disputed referendum.
Late Monday, the United States and the European Union
imposed personal sanctions on a handful of officials from Russia
and Ukraine who were accused of involvement in Moscow's military
seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, in the biggest crisis
between Russia and the United States since the end of the Cold
"What had been going on in the Ukraine has been weighing on
the minds of investors for a while, so it is a relief that we
are apparently moving beyond this," said Joseph Tanious, global
market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in New York.
"While from an economic standpoint the Ukraine doesn't have
a major impact on the global economy, there were worries about
more tension between Russia and western powers, and how far this
kind of standoff could go."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 78.99 points,
or 0.49 percent, at 16,326.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 8.81 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,867.64. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.07 points, or 0.61
percent, at 4,306.02.
With the day's advance, the S&P 500 is less than 1 percent
away from an all-time high hit earlier this month. Over the past
two sessions, the benchmark index has gained about 1.4 percent.
Investors were looking ahead to a two-day meeting of the
U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee, which begins
Tuesday. The central bank is not expected to deviate from
previously announced policy plans, but as the Fed's stimulus has
kept a floor under equity prices, market participants will be
attuned to any hint of a change.
In the latest economic data, consumer prices rose 0.1
percent in February, as expected, while housing starts fell
modestly from the previous month.
In company news, Hertz Global Holdings Inc said it
would spin off its equipment rental business for $2.5 billion
and use part of the proceeds to fund a stock buyback program.
Shares fell 1.4 percent to $26.84.
General Motors Co announced new recalls of 1.5
million vehicles on Monday. In an unprecedented public admission
by a GM chief executive, Mary Barra acknowledged the company
fell short in catching faulty ignition switches linked to 12
deaths. Shares rose 1.3 percent to $35.08.
GameStop Corp shares fell 5.2 percent to $37.70 as
the biggest decliner on the S&P 500 after Wal-Mart Stores Inc
said it would allow shoppers to trade in used video
games for anything from groceries to gadgets.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)