Stocks Close Higher as Putin's Words Ease Geopolitical Concerns

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Stocks rose on Thursday despite sub-par economic data around the world, and after conciliatory remarks from Russian President Vladimir Putin eased geopolitical concerns over Ukraine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 61 points higher, the S&P 500 rose 8 points and the Nasdaq added 18 points. Analysts said stocks continue to trade as though bad news was actually good news on the view it will keep the Federal Reserve engaged with policy easing.In a speech in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, Putin said: "We will do everything in our power so that this conflict is ended as soon as possible, so that the blood can stop flowing in Ukraine.'' Earlier, U.S. stocks followed European markets, which closed higher despite flat GDP growth across the Eurozone and the first contraction in over a year of Germany's economy. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reported an increase to 311,000 in claims for unemployment benefits last week, above forecasts of 295,000.

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- Evelyn Cheng,