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LONDON: US and European stock markets were buoyed Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments about a “positive shift” in talks with Ukraine, traders said.

Oil also rose on Iran supply fears, but remained well below the 14-year peak near $140 hit Monday on worries of a severe fallout from key producer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pound and yen hit multi-year dollar lows before regaining some ground, as spiking US inflation fanned expectations the Federal Reserve would deliver aggressive interest rate hikes.

Equities rose after Putin said his negotiators had reported “certain positive shifts” in talks with Ukraine.

“This gullible market — or some indubitable algorithms — seems willing to take Putin’s words as the makings perhaps of an exit path,” said analyst Patrick O’Hare.

“While this week’s rebound is a welcome respite after three weeks of losses, any deterioration in sentiment over the weekend could see these gains reversed in a heartbeat if Russia chooses to escalate further, as well as potentially crossing the red line of chemical, or biological weapons use,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

In Europe, London ended with a gain of 0.8 percent, Paris rose by 0.9 percent and Frankfurt climbed 1.4 percent, to post their first weekly rise since the war.

On Wall Street, the Dow added 0.4 percent, although both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were lower.

Sentiment was also brightened Friday as data showed the UK economy rebounded 0.8 percent in January after a 0.2-percent decline in December, as Omicron coronavirus curbs were lifted.

Markets have nevertheless been rocked ever since Russia shocked the world by invading its neighbour Ukraine on February 24.

Oil jumped Friday after the European Union revealed talks it is chairing about the revival of the 2015 nuclear accord with crude producer Iran must be paused, days after fresh demands from Russia complicated negotiations.

Oil has been extremely volatile ever since Moscow’s invasion, with traders still fretting over Western moves to ban Russian crude.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride for oil this week, and for some, the weekend cannot come quick enough,” said Stephen Innes, Managing Partner at SPI Asset Management.

Crude prices have pulled back from nearly $140 at the peak on Monday to around $110 on Friday as hopes rose that other producers will step up production.

“This optimism needs to be tempered by the fact that any increase in output from OPEC would not be enough to offset the loss of Russian supply,” said Hewson at CMC Markets.


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