Stocks end higher on hopes for Russia relief
NEW YORK — Stocks ended higher on Monday, extending the rally from Friday as investors hoped that Russia’s move to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine would ease tensions between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned of a “high probability” that Russia, using the guise of a humanitarian mission, could intervene militarily in Ukraine. Ukraine has also said that, contrary to Russian reports of de-escalating, Russia has massed 45,000 troops on its border.
Investors did not seem fazed by the reports. The Market Vectors Russia Exchange-Ttraded Fund, which gives investors exposure to publicly traded companies based in Russia, gained 1.43 percent.
“It seems like U.S. investors who are taking a risk on Russian equities don’t deem NATO’s statement as a legitimate concern,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.
Investors with money in Russian equities seem to be “taking Russia’s actions at face value, and not interpreting it as a cover for military action,” he said.
Gains were broad, with eight of the S&P’s 10 primary sector indexes ending higher for the day. Consumer staples shares posted the highest increases as the sector’s index gained 0.8 percent, while energy and utilities shares dragged.
Stocks also climbed after the United States continued air strikes against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq over the weekend and as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt on Monday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 16.05 points, or 0.10 percent, to end at 16,569.98, still below its close at the end of 2013. The S&P 500 gained 5.33 points, or 0.28 percent, to finish at 1,936.92. The Nasdaq Composite added 30.43 points, or 0.70 percent, to close at 4,401.33.
Investors snapped up shares of companies developing potential treatments for the often fatal Ebola virus disease amid growing calls to expedite research funding and drug approvals. U.S.-listed shares of Canada-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp soared 15.0 percent to $23.80. The stock of U.S.-based Sarepta Therapeutics Inc gained 7.4 percent to $22.66.
Priceline Group Inc shares rose 2.2 percent to $1,309.28 after the online travel agency reported quarterly revenue rose 26 percent. More than 2 million shares were traded, almost triple the 50-day moving average volume of 724,115 shares.
About 4.7 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms.