Tuesday March 1st


Dow futures fall as Russia bears down on Ukraine capital, oil hits 7-year high

U.S. stock market index futures pointed to a rough start to March for the equity market as oil prices surged and investors continue to monitor the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. Dow futures dropped 125 points or 0.4%. S&P 500 futures were off 0.3% and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 0.4%. The decline in index futures came as satellite cameras captured a convoy of Russian military vehicles apparently on its way to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. The continued aggression from Russia pushed energy prices higher. West Texas Intermediate crude futures jumped 5% on Tuesday morning, breaking above $101 per barrel and hitting its highest level in seven years. The rise in energy prices added to inflation fears in the U.S. and Europe. Financial stocks were some of the biggest early losers in Tuesday premarket trading, with Bank of America down 2%, Citigroup off 1.8% and Charles Schwab lower by 1.5%. Some of the early stock losses were offset by strong Target earnings, as the Big Box retailer posted profit of $3.19 a share that was well ahead of Wall Street estimates. Shares jumped nearly 10% in premarket trading. Treasury yields were mostly lower, with the benchmark 10-year note most recently at 1.77%. Yields move opposite prices, so the decline represents a rush into safe-haven bonds amid the stock market turmoil. Ukrainian and Russian officials wrapped up a critical round of talks Monday, and heavy sanctions from the U.S. and its allies are hitting the Russian economy and central bank. Major companies are abiding by the sanctions from the U.S. and its allies, with Mastercard and Visa blocking Russian financial institutions from their networks. The VanEck Russia ETF, which sank 30% on Monday even as markets in that country were closed, was down another 12% on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the central bank of Russia more than doubled its key interest rate on Monday, as the ruble plummeted against the U.S. dollar. In a volatile session Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 170 points. The S&P 500 dropped 0.24% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4%. JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic said Monday the worst of the Russia-Ukraine sell-off might be over. “The Russia/Ukraine crisis will continue to produce market volatility, but the direct impact on corporate earnings should be small. Indirect risks are more substantial, given effects of higher commodity prices on inflation, growth, and consumers,” Kolanovic said in a Monday afternoon note. “However, one silver lining is that the crisis forced a dovish reassessment of the Fed by the market.” Investors are also gearing up to hear from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in his semiannual hearing at House Committee on Financial Services, which begins on Wednesday. Monday also marked the final trading day of February. The Dow lost 3.5% for the month. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell 3.1% and 3.4%, respectively. As corporate earnings season winds down, cloud giant Salesforce reports results after the close. On the economic front, February’s Markit Manufacturing PMI will be released at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday. ISM manufacturing PMI for February will be out at 10 a.m. Asia-Pacific markets rose on Tuesday as investors navigated the changing situation in Russia and Ukraine. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.2% to close at 26,844.72, while the Topix advanced 0.54% to 1,897.17. In China, the Shanghai composite rose 0.77% to 3,488.84, and the Shenzhen component climbed 0.25% to 13,488.64. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.38% in afternoon trade. Elsewhere, South Korea markets are closed for a holiday on Tuesday. Oil prices surged Tuesday, with U.S. crude hitting its highest level since July 2014 as Russia bears down on Ukraine’s capital. Prices first topped the $100 mark last Thursday when Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting fears of supply disruptions from key exporter Russia, in what is already a very tight market. West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, jumped 5.7% to trade at $101.17 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude advanced 6.3% to trade at $104.16 per barrel. The contract rose to $105.79 last week, the highest since 2014. Gold prices eased on Tuesday after strong performances in the past few sessions, as Russian and Ukrainian officials began ceasefire talks and Western countries ramped up sanctions against Moscow, dampening the demand for safe-haven assets. Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,902.15 per ounce, as of 0149 GMT, after a more than 1% gain in the previous session. U.S. gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,904.80.