U.S. stocks rebounded, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbing the most in five months to erase a weekly loss, as signs that tensions are easing in Ukraine outweighed concern over crises in the Middle East.
The S&P 500 jumped 1.2 percent to 1,931.45 at 4 p.m. in New York, the most since March 4.
“For the most part the market has been pretty resilient over the last week or so,” Michael James, a Los Angeles-based managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities Inc., said. “It has been able to shrug off a lot of negatives and not go lower than it had.”
The S&P 500’s rally erased declines in the previous four sessions. The gauge yesterday came within 60 points of wiping out its gains for 2014 as it closed below its 100-day moving average for the first time since April. The Dow bounced back after touching its average price in the past 200 days.
Stocks jumped after RIA Novosti reported that Russia seeks a de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. Equities extended gains as Interfax, citing Russia’s Defense Ministry, said military exercises held since Aug. 4 near the Ukraine border are over and forces are returning to areas of permanent deployment.
The S&P 500 had dropped 3.9 percent from a record on July 24 through yesterday as Russia amassed troops along Ukraine’s border and as conflict escalated between Israel and Hamas. Equity futures retreated early today as President Barack Obama approved air strikes in Iraq, and rocket attacks marked the end of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
“When you see the geopolitical news in Russia and the Middle East, it’s horrible from a humanitarian point of view for U.S. equities, but how bad is it for U.S. economic fundamentals?” Michael Purves, chief global strategist and head of equity derivatives research at Weeden & Co. in Greenwich, Connecticut, said. “It’s pretty distant. We’ve had a big sell-off since the highs in July and in my estimations, this has been a pretty orderly retreat spurred by overstretched market conditions.”
The S&P 500 has gone without a 10 percent correction since 2011. It trades at 17.5 times the reported earnings of its companies, after reaching a four-year high of 18.3 in June.
Data today showed the productivity of U.S. workers rose more than projected in the second quarter, rebounding from the biggest drop in more than three decades and helping to restrain labor costs.
Reports last week showed U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 4 percent annual pace in the second quarter, confirming the Fed’s view that a first-quarter contraction was transitory. Employers in the U.S. added more than 200,000 jobs for a sixth straight month in July, the longest such period since 1997.
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