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US stocks mostly higher but tech-rich Nasdaq falls

US stocks finished mostly higher following more-conciliatory statements by Russia's president amid the Ukraine crisis, but weak earnings from some technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq into the red.

NEW YORK: US stocks Wednesday finished mostly higher following more-conciliatory statements by Russia's president amid the Ukraine crisis, but weak earnings from some technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq into the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 117.52 points (0.72 per cent) to 16,518.54, while the broad-based S&P 500 advanced 10.49 points (0.56 per cent) to 1,878.21.

But the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 13.09 points (0.32 per cent) to 4,067.67.

There was some easing in geopolitical tensions over Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin told pro-Russian rebels fighting in east Ukraine to halt plans for independence referendums.

Investors also closely tracked Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony in Congress. The Fed chief said the US economy is on track for "solid growth" in the second quarter.

Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Capital Markets, said Yellen's comments encouraged investors, while Putin's remarks also "had a positive effect" on the indexes, even if investors are skeptical of the Russian president.

But tech stocks suffered another bout of weakness after some disappointing earnings results. Big drops came from AOL (-20.6 per cent), FireEye (-22.8 per cent) and Groupon (-20.7 per cent) following their reports.

With earnings season nearly done, the quarter was "lackluster" for the tech sector as a whole, said Peter Wahlstrom, senior analyst for technology, Morningstar.

"You're looking for broad-based strength. You're not seeing that," Wahlstrom said.

"There are areas that are performing well. There are areas that are not performing well and, on average, investors would have wanted more."

Cybersecurity company FireEye shed more than one-fifth of its market value after forecasting it would lose 58-63 cents in the upcoming quarter, much more than the 51 cents projected by analysts.

Video game developer King Digital reported a decline in gross bookings for its signature product, Candy Crush. Shares plummeted 13.4 per cent.

Yahoo, which owns a large stake in Chinese Internet shopping giant Alibaba, fell 6.6 per cent on concerns the stake may be worth less than the market expected following Alibaba's initial public offering documents filed Tuesday.

Snacks and beverage company Mondelez International jumped 8.2 per cent after announcing that it was merging its coffee business with that of Dutch company 1753 D.E Master Blenders in exchange for $5 billion in cash and a 49 per cent stake in the venture.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dipped to 2.59 per cent from 2.60 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year rose to 3.40 per cent from 3.38 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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