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At midday: Markets rebound as Ukraine fears recede

President Vladimir Putin answers journalists’ questions on the current situation in Ukraine at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

Alexei Nikolsky/AP

The Toronto stock market registered a strong advance Tuesday as worries of an escalation in the Russian-Ukraine standoff lessened.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 74.13 points to 14,286.87, led by base metal stocks.

The Canadian dollar gave up early gains to move down 0.21 of a cent to 90.01 cents (U.S.) a day before the Bank of Canada's interest rate announcement.

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U.S. indexes were sharply higher in the wake of major losses Monday after Russian troops invaded the Crimean peninsula over the weekend, where Russia has major military installations and much of the population is Russian speaking. Although tensions are still high, they were ratcheted down somewhat after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine's border to return to their bases.

The Dow Jones industrials jumped 199.18 points to 16,367.21, the Nasdaq gained 72.96 points to 4,350.26 and the S&P 500 index ran up 24.5 points to 1,870.23.

Putin has said that he hopes that Russia won't need to use force in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, which does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, insists it made the move into Crimea in order to protect Russian installations in Ukraine and its citizens living there.

Analysts warn that the situation in Eastern Europe still remains highly volatile for global markets.

"Note that this withdrawal of troops refers to exercises that... the Russian authorities had always maintained were 'unrelated' to Ukraine," said Adam Cole, head of G10 FX Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

"It does not appear to have any bearing on Russian troops inside Crimea. As such, markets will remain sensitive to Ukraine-related headlines and further bouts of risk aversion are likely."

Meanwhile, Scotiabank reported $1.71-billion of quarterly net income, up 6.5 per cent from a year earlier. Ex-items, earnings came in at $1.34 a share, which met estimates. The bank is raising its dividend three per cent to 64 cents a share and its shares gained 14 cents to $63.17.

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"If you look to see where the earnings came from, a lot of it was domestic," said Allan Small, a senior adviser at Holliswealth, observing that Scotiabank has had the most exposure to emerging markets of the big banks.

"And right now, the emerging markets are struggling. They had a great run for a long time and now everyone is kind of stepping back."

RadioShack plans to close up to 1,100 of its U.S. stores as the electronics retailer reported a quarterly loss of $191.4-million, or $1.90 per share, compared with a loss of $63.3-million a year earlier. Excluding items, the electronics retailer lost $1.29 per share against the 16 cents that analysts expected and its shares plunged 14.7 per cent in New York.

The base metals segment led advancers, up 2.15 per cent while May copper clawed back Monday's two-cent loss and then some, up four cents to $3.21 (U.S.) a pound.

Oil and gold gave back a good-sized chunk of the gains racked up on Monday with the April crude contract in New York down $1.63 to $103.29 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.1 per cent.

The gold sector was slightly in the red while April bullion faded $12.60 to $1,337.70 an ounce.

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