Easing of Ukraine tensions helps drive stocks up

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. stocks gained Monday, extending a rebound from Friday, as investors focused on corporate news instead of geopolitical concerns.

An easing of tensions in Ukraine combined with subdued Chinese inflation figures to help stock markets around the world enjoy a strong start to the week. For weeks, markets have been roiled by a raft of geopolitical concerns, often centered on rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,941 as of 12:17 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,606 percent. The Nasdaq composite gained 36 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,407.

KINDRED SPIRITS: Kinder Morgan gained $3.54, or 10 percent, to $39.66. The company said Sunday that a group of oil and gas pipeline and storage companies that it controls will combine to create the 4th biggest U.S. energy company by market value. Currently, the companies trade separately.

PRICELINE EARNINGS: Priceline rose $41.80, or 3.3 percent, to $1,323 after the company reported second-quarter earnings that beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts. The company said the summer travel season got off to a good start for the online booking company. Expedia, another online travel booking company, also rose, gaining $2.50, or 3.1 percent, to $85.10.

GEOPOLITICS: After taking a jab at the West with last week's ban on food imports, Russia called an end to military exercises near Ukraine and withdrew troops to their bases. Though fears of a Russian invasion have eased, several geopolitical concerns remain for investors. In Iraq, U.S. warplanes attacked Islamic State militants near the northern city of Irbil, capital of the Kurdish region, in hopes of limiting their advance and keeping them away from oil fields.

THE QUOTE: Monday's rally is "a lot about geopolitics, and the fact that Russia seems to have dialed down its aggressive stance," said Kristina Hooper, US Investment Strategist at Allianz Global Investors. "This is really just a halo continued from Friday."

GOING BANANAS: Chiquita Brands International surged $3.13, or 31 percent, to $13.20 after Cutrale Group and the Safra Group proposed making an offer to acquire all of Chiquita's outstanding stock for at $13.

EUROPEAN STOCKS: Germany's DAX spiked 1.9 percent to 9,180 while France's CAC-40 added 1.2 percent to 4,197. Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 1 percent to 6,632.

CHINESE INFLATION: Investors were encouraged by news that China's inflation rate in July came in at 2.3 percent, well below the official target for the year of 3.5 percent. That gives the central bank room to ease access to credit if needed to shore up economic growth, which was 7.5 percent in the latest quarter. That would lower the cost of financing for stock trading, helping to support markets.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: U.S. government bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was flat at 2.42 percent. The price of oil climbed 45 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $98.09 a barrel. Gold fell $2.80, or 0.2 percent, to $1,308.10. Silver rose 3.4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $19.98 an ounce.

CURRENCIES: In currency trading the euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.3383 while the dollar rose 0.1 percent against the Japanese yen to 102.12 yen.