- Putin has no intention to expand presence in Ukraine
- Housing starts flat, building permits jump
- CPI unchanged at 0.1 per cent in February
Dow Jones: 0.64%
S&P 500: 0.60%
US markets followed their European counterparts higher on Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow has no plans to send its troops further into Ukraine after annexing Crimea.
Broadly flat housing starts and a jump in forward-looking housing permits were also lifting sentiment in New York as data showed that the adverse impact from the severe winter weather could be starting to fade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% to 16,352, the Nasdaq gained 0.8% to 4,313, while the S&P 500
was trading 0.6% higher at 1,781.
"Equities are making a tentative move higher on news that Mr Putin, for now, does not intend to carve up any more of Ukraine, putting both ease and money back into risk assets," said Trader David White from Spreadex.
Following Sunday's referendum, which saw Crimean locals vote overwhelmingly to join Russia, Putin and other officials signed a treaty to accept the accession, defying sanctions imposed by European Union (EU) and US leaders yesterday who labelled the vote as illegal.
"Crimea is our common property and a very important factor in the stability of the region," he said. "This strategic territory should be under a strong, sovereign state and that in fact can only be Russia."
Building permits jump, housing starts flat
US building permits surged by 7.7% to 1.02m, up from a revised 945,000 the month before and ahead of the 960,000 forecast.
US housing starts fell by just 0.2% last month to reach an annualised rate of 907,000, close to analysts' expectations of 910,000, while January's reading was upwardly revised to 909,000.
Analyst Cooper Howes from Barclays Research said that he still views housing as being in a "recovery phase", though the market has been negatively affected by higher mortgage rates since last year and adverse weather at the start of 2014.
"To the extent that the softness in January and February was driven by these weather effects, we would expect to see a reversal [in housing starts] in the coming months, most likely in the second quarter," he said.
US consumer prices rose by 0.1% in February, in line with January's ready and the consensus estimate. However, the annual rate of inflation fell to 1.1% from 1.6% the month before, below the 1.2% forecast.
GameStop falls on Wal-Mart move
Retail titan Wal-Mart edged higher today after saying that it will allow customers to trade in used videogames for gift cards to spend in store or online.
The move prompted a big fall in GameStop's share price on concerns that it could erode its dominance in the $2bn used videogame market. Best Buy which also buys used videogames, was also trading lower.
Qiagen, the maker of diagnostic equipment, gained after Berenberg Bank lifted its rating on the stock today to 'buy'. Fashion group Michael Kors Holdings declined as Barclays started coverage of the shares
with an 'underweight' recommendation.
Software giants Oracle and Adobe Systems are likely to be in focus ahead of their earnings due out after the close.