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Wall Street advances despite Ukraine concerns

Russia military exercises near the Ukraine border have sparked some safe-haven buying, but this hasn’t stopped the S&P 500 advancing again beyond its closing record.

Once again the S&P 500 is making an attempt at a new record high, having risen above that high-water mark every day this week but failing to hold on for a new closing record in each trading session. By early afternoon in New York, the S&P 500 was up 0.26% at 1850.0, flush against the point of resistance. The Dow Jones also achieve the same percentage gain, climbing to 16,242.

Today, as yesterday, the retail sector is a bright spot, with JC Penney up a remarkable 24.75%. The company didn’t report a brilliant set of quarterly figures after the close last night, though it did manage to post a smaller than expected quarterly loss. Most of all it was its guidance for 2014 that got the market’s attention, forecasting ‘significant’ growth in gross margin.  This would appear to draw a line in the sand after two horrible years for the department store chain in which its has suffered large losses and seen its share price plummet.

The political tumult in Ukraine has, up till now, caused few repercussions in the financial market, but with the Russian military now being thrown into the mix, safe haven assets are getting a lift. President Putin has put Russian forces in the border regions on combat alert and the uncertainty over how this might escalate is supressing risk appetite and stoking a flight to quality, with gold up 0.16% and silver advancing 0.44%. US crude oil futures have fallen 0.5%.

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