Investing.com - Chinese stocks picked up Thursday, while Hong Kong stocks also rose after better than expected export numbers from China.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.7% and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was up 1.5% after data showed China''s exports in April grew 0.9% from a year earlier. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose by 0.2%.
China''s trade growth has been weak in recent months due to distortion caused by widespread over-invoicing by exporters early last year--a practice that overstated performance until regulators started to clamp down on the activity in May 2013. The increase in exports in April marks a turnaround from the 6.6% drop in exports in March.
Overnight, the the Dow 30 rose 0.72%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.56%, while the NASDAQ Composite Composite index fell 0.32%.
Concerns that Ukraine will descend into civil war eased after President Putin called on separatists in the eastern reaches of the country to postpone their referendum on independence, and added that Russia had withdrawn its forces from the border.
Putin stressed that Russia will do "all it can" to resolve the crisis and will take a "most positive" approach to international peace efforts.
The crisis has taken its toll on stocks by stoking fears the U.S. will become more involved, which could hamper recovery as well as disrupt business for many U.S. companies active in Europe.
Elsewhere, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said earlier that a high degree of monetary accommodation remains warranted given the slack still persistent in the economy, and added that while conditions in the U.S. labor market have improved, they remain far from satisfactory.
Yellen added that monetary authorities expect economic growth to accelerate this year despite the slowdown in the first quarter but warned that the recent housing market slowdown "could prove more protracted than currently expected."
Elsewhere, upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods Market Inc (NASDAQ:WFM) fell after several analysts cut their ratings on the stock due to disappointing quarterly earnings and a cut to the company''s 2014 earnings forecast.
Technology shares took a hit, as investors viewed the sector as too frothy and sidestepped momentum stocks, Internet equities especially, which brought the Nasdaq down.
After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.28%, France''s CAC 40 rose 0.41%, while Germany''s DAX rose 0.57%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 fell 0.03%.
On Thursday, the U.S., is to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims.