Wall Street falters as Ukraine war drags on
LONDON – Wall Street ended a downbeat week with further losses Friday as traders braced for continued economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as looming Federal Reserve rate hikes, though European indices saw gains.
Oil also rose on Iran supply fears, but remained well below the 14-year peak of near $140 hit Monday brought on by worries of disruptions to supply from Russia, a major producer.
The pound and yen hit multi-year dollar lows before regaining some ground, as traders prepared for the Federal Reserve to most likely hike interest rates next week for the first time since the pandemic, in the first of several moves this year to fight inflation.
While equities rose after Putin said his negotiators had reported “certain positive shifts” in talks with Ukraine, the enthusiasm petered out in New York trading as Washington and Brussels announced new sanctions against Russia and fighting continued.
The Nasdaq closed more than two percent lower and the S&P 500 fell more than one percent.
“This gullible market — or some indubitable algorithms — seems willing to take Putin’s words as the makings perhaps of an exit path,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare.
In Europe, London ended with a gain of 0.8 percent, Paris rose by 0.9 percent and Frankfurt climbed 1.4 percent to post their first weekly rise since the war.
Sentiment there was also brightened by data showing the UK economy rebounded 0.8 percent in January after a 0.2-percent decline in December, as Omicron coronavirus curbs were lifted.
Markets have been rocked ever since Russia shocked the world by invading its neighbor on February 24.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK warned that “any deterioration in sentiment over the weekend could see these gains reversed in a heartbeat if Russia chooses to escalate further, as well as potentially crossing the red line of chemical, or biological weapons use.”
Oil jumped Friday after the European Union revealed talks it is chairing about the revival of the 2015 nuclear accord with crude producer Iran must be paused, days after fresh demands from Russia complicated negotiations.
Oil has been extremely volatile ever since Moscow’s invasion, with traders still fretting over Western moves to ban Russian crude.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride for oil this week, and for some, the weekend cannot come quick enough,” said Stephen Innes, Managing Partner at SPI Asset Management.
Crude prices have pulled back from nearly $140 at the peak on Monday to around $110 on Friday as hopes rose that other producers will step up production.
“This optimism needs to be tempered by the fact that any increase in output from OPEC would not be enough to offset the loss of Russian supply,” said Hewson at CMC Markets.
Key figures around 2130 GMT
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.7 percent at 32,944.19 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 1.3 percent at 4,204.31 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 2.2 percent at 12,843.81 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.0 percent at 3,686.78 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.8 percent at 7,155.64 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: UP 1.4 percent at 13,628.11 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.9 percent at 6,260.25 (close)
Brent North Sea crude: UP 3.1 percent at $112.65 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.2 percent at $109.36
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.1 percent at 25,162.78 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.6 percent at 20,553.79 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,309.75 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0908 from $1.0986 Thursday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3030 from $1.3086
Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.70 pence from 83.95 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 117.26 yen from 116.14 yen
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