Friday March 18th


Stock futures fall as S&P 500 tries to notch best week since November 2020

U.S. stock market index futures fell Friday following a three-day rally for the S&P 500 that put the equity benchmark on pace for its biggest weekly gain in more than a year. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 181 points. S&P 500 futures were down 0.7% along with Nasdaq 100 futures. Shares of FedEx fell more than 3% in premarket trading after the U.S. delivery firm posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit amid labor shortages, while the pandemic also hurt its holiday revenue growth. GameStop saw its shares dropping about 7% in extended trading after the video game retailer reported an unexpected loss during the holiday quarter. The company said it will launch a new marketplace for non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, by the end of April. Friday’s moves come as traders continued to digest the latest developments in the Ukraine-Russia war. Several missiles hit an aircraft repair center on the outskirts Lviv in western Ukraine. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is slated to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the conflict. A Ukrainian official also said one person was killed in an airstrike that hit Kyiv. On Thursday stocks extended gains after reports that Russia made a $117 million bond payment in dollars, thereby avoiding what would be a historic foreign currency debt default. Stocks have enjoyed a relief rally this week as the Federal Reserve’s decision to tighten policy largely met investor expectations. The S&P 500 has gained for three consecutive days this week, up 4.9%, on track for its best week since November 2020. The blue-chip Dow is coming off a four-day winning streak, rising 4.7% for the week so far, and is also on pace for its biggest weekly gain since November 2020. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is up 6% this week, headed for its best week since February 2021. Earlier this week, the central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2018 and signaled six more hikes this year. “Fortunately, investor expectations for inflation over the next five years was brought down quite a bit, which, if sustained, will continue [to] be helpful for the Fed and the markets despite somewhat higher interest rates,” said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management. Shares in Hong Kong slipped on Friday but still finished a rollercoaster week more than 4% higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index swung between positive and negative territory on Friday, closing 0.41% lower at 21,412.40 but rising 4.17% for the week. In mainland China, the Shanghai composite closed 1.12% higher at 3,251.07 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.315% to 12,328.65. Japanese stocks closed higher as the Nikkei 225 rose 0.65% to 26,827.43 while the Topix index climbed 0.54% to 1,909.27. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.46%, finishing the trading day at 2,707.02. Oil prices extended their rally on Friday at the end of a third volatile week of trade after slim progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine raised the specter of tighter sanctions and a prolonged disruption to oil supply. Despite battleground setbacks and punitive sanctions by the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little sign of relenting. A fourth day of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators took place by video link, but the Kremlin said an agreement had yet to be reached. Brent crude futures added 1.02% to trade at $107.73 per barrel, after surging nearly 9% on Thursday in the largest percentage gain since mid-2020. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.34, or 1.3%, to $104.32 a barrel, adding to an 8% jump on Thursday. Gold dipped on Friday as the dollar strengthened, with prices on course for their biggest weekly fall in nearly four months as some of the safe-haven demand spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cooled. Spot gold was down 0.3% to $1,936.75 per ounce at 8:15 a.m. EST. U.S. gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,939.30. The dollar rose 0.5% against its rivals, hurting appetite for bullion for overseas buyers.