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World markets ending week up as Ukraine tensions ease

LONDON - Global stock markets were on course to end a solid week higher on Friday as investors continued to put their recent caution behind them amid further hopeful signs of an easing of tensions in Ukraine.

In Europe, France's CAC 40 advanced 1 percent to 4,245, while Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent to 9,307. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.7 percent higher at 6,729. Wall Street was poised for solid gains at the open, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.

Earlier, Asian capped one of their best weeks in months with further gains across most of the main indexes. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.6 percent to 24,954.94 and China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.9 percent to 2,226.73. Japan's Nikkei 225 ended little changed at 15,318.34, but still ended up higher over the week.

"This week is a powerful answer to the question of whether equity markets had run too far and were still vulnerable," said David White, a trader at Spreadex. "Investors still have confidence, but are now more price sensitive as capital becomes less cheap."

The main reason ascribed to the solid performance this week has been an apparent easing in Ukraine tensions. On Friday, it's been helped by suggestions that Russia's President Vladimir Putin appears to be toning down his rhetoric on the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are waging an insurgency in Ukraine's east. In addressing hundreds of lawmakers Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Yalta in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March, he said Russia's goal was "to stop bloodshed in Ukraine as soon as possible." Russia has also let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy and agreed to let the Red Cross distribute the aid around the rebel-held city of Luhansk, easing concerns that the aid operation is a ruse to get military help to separatist rebels.

Currency markets were fairly subdued, with the euro up 0.2 percent at $1.3388 and the dollar 0.1 percent higher at 102.56 yen. In the oil markets, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude was up 7 cents to $95.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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