Wall St ends higher as blue chips rally
The three major US stock indexes fell for much of the session before rebounding in afternoon trading. The Nasdaq moved in a 108.77-point range, and at its lows of the day, it was within 0.3 percent of 3,934.53, the level that represents a 10 percent drop from its recent intraday peak, hit on March 6.
Coca-Cola Co jumped 3.7 percent to $40.18 as one of the S&P 500's biggest gainers after the world's largest beverage maker reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue, helped by strong sales in China. Johnson & Johnson rose 2.1 percent to $99.20 after the pharmaceuticals and consumer products company posted earnings that beat expectations and raised its full-year profit view.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 89.32 points, or 0.55 percent, to end at 16,262.56. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 12.37 points, or 0.68 percent, to finish at 1,842.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 11.47 points, or 0.29 percent, to close at 4,034.16.
The US Consumer Price Index increased 0.2 percent in March as food and housing rental costs rose, although inflation pressures remained generally benign.
About 58 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed higher for the day, while about 50 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares ended lower.
European stocks sank, resuming last week's sell-off as worries over escalating tension in Ukraine and weak updates by bellwethers including Nestle spooked investors.
Renewed concerns over the pace of growth in China ahead of GDP figures due on Wednesday also weighed on sentiment, with mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto losing 2 percent ant 3.1 percent respectively.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index dropped 1.3 percent to 3,091.52 points, closing below a key support level, its 50-day moving average, sending a bearish technical signal.
"We're cautious in the short term, we're waiting to see how the geopolitical situation evolves. There are a lot of uncertainties about Ukraine, which could become a negative catalyst for stocks if things spin out of control," Barclays France director Franklin Pichard said.
Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war as Kiev said an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Moscow separatists was under way, with troops and armoured personnel carriers seen near a flashpoint eastern town.
Meanwhile, Japanese stocks rebounded from six-month lows after strong US retail sales data helped calm nerves amid the backdrop of an escalating crisis in Ukraine, pulling the yen down and supporting exporters.
The Nikkei share average ended 0.6 percent higher to 13,996.81, crawling back from previous day lows last visited in early October. The broader Topix rose 0.3 percent to 1,136.09.