U.S. stocks advanced Monday, after the Nasdaq Composite briefly detoured into negative terrain, as investors embraced data that had U.S. retail sales jumping the most since 2012 while tracking tensions in Ukraine.
"We're hopeful that today's upward price action is not confined, but we're also cognizant of continued unrest in that geography," Jim Russell, senior equity strategist for US Bank Wealth Management, said of Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists reportedly disregarded an order to depart government building in eastern parts of the country as government troops did not follow up on a threatened offensive.
"The markets are watching; it's borderline unforecastable," Russell added.
"Whenever you have geopolitics in play, it can push valuations and fundamentals to the rear. Ukraine has jumped into the mix; there really isn't a legitimate way to protect yourself against it," said Sandy Lincoln, chief market strategist at BMO Asset Management US.
Benchmark indexes ended near session highs after scaling back on their gains late in the session.
Stocks initially rallied after figures from the Commerce Department had retail sales climbing 1.1 percent in March, furthering the notion that the U.S. economy is recovering after harsh weather curbed spending at the beginning of the year.
"The last two days were pretty big down days, so the markets were ripe for a bounce. But the retail numbers were pretty good; the effects of the cold weather are finally going away," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
"There's a strong case to be made that we started first quarter on a weak note and ended it on a strong note," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Wealth Management.