05/03/14: Ukraine: Relief rally (and then some)

A more conciliatory tone

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no immediate need to invade Ukraine while leaving open the possibility of using force, as the U.S. weighed sanctions on Russia and offered aid to the Ukrainian government.

In his first public remarks since Ukraine said its Crimean peninsula was seized by Russian forces, Putin said yesterday he has a duty to defend ethnic Russians in the region and reserved the right to military action. U.S. President Barack Obama challenged Putin’s rationale for intervening, as Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine’s cash-strapped government during a visit to Kiev.

As a result stocks rebounded worldwide yesterday after Putin’s remarks stirred optimism that the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War is cooling.  Putin said troops stationed in Crimea, where Russia keeps its Black Sea fleet, have only been securing their bases. Gunmen who’ve seized crucial infrastructure and surrounded military installations are acting independently, he said. At the time of writing, the US Dow Jones Index had rallied 227 points to 16,395 overnight while Australia's All Ordinaries Index is up 0.60% to 5,444.

And locally...

Perhaps more importantly, today, Australia's quarterly GDP surprised on the upside posting an annualised rate of 2.8% - higher than the 2.5% GDP rate economists were expecting. When coupled with the announcement today, from Chinese authorities, that their growth rate 'goal' for 2014 will remain at 7.5%, this should add more fuel to the overall optimism currently taking hold of financial markets - great news for Westmount clients. (Rick Maggi. Westmount. Financial Solutions.)