Wall St. jump takes stock index to 14-year peak on fading Ukraine worries

Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:35pm EDT
 
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By Michael Connor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. and European stock prices surged on Monday, taking a leading U.S. equities index to a 14-year high, as investors breathed easier over the Ukraine crisis and knocked oil prices to lows not seen in more than a year.

U.S. bond prices dropped and the dollar rose after dipping on Friday, when the government in Kiev said its artillery had hit a Russian armored column. Russia denied its forces had crossed into Ukraine.

On Wall Street, a homebuilders rally and an $8.95 billion bid by discount retailer Dollar General Corp for Family Dollar Inc that trumped a bid by Dollar Tree Inc also helped prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up unofficially at 175.8 points, or 1.06 percent, to 16,838.74 while the S&P 500 gained 16.7 points, or 0.85 percent, to 1,971.74.

The Nasdaq Composite added 43.39 points, or 0.97 percent, to 4,508.31. It was the tech-heavy Nasdaq's first day above the key 4,500 mark since March 2000.

Homebuilders' stocks were prominent after the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index showed that U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose for the third straight month in August. The PHLX housing sector index climbed 1.66 percent.

"People left Friday unsure of whether or not the Ukrainian conflict was escalating and they seem to have come back today thinking it’s not," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.2 percent. German blue chips, which are considered especially vulnerable to tensions between the West and Russia, were among the top gainers.   Continued...

 
The Wall St. sign is seen outside the door to the New York Stock Exchange in New York's financial district February 4, 2014.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid