Stocks Open Lower on Ukraine Escalation Fears

US stocks edged down as investors showed concern about further escalation in the Ukraine war leading to shortfalls of commodities supply.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% in early New York trading, a modest pullback in the broad-market index after it closed 1.3% higher on Thursday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 0.3%, or 108 points.

Stocks have advanced for the past three days, putting the S&P 500 on track for the best weekly performance in over a year. It is up 4.5% so far this week. Investors said they were assessing the impact the war in Ukraine could have on the US economy and that companies still have strong fundamentals. The recent upward march in oil prices could potentially damp sentiment and spur more worries about inflationinvestors said.

“Sentiment remains fragile, and that risk of further escalation remains a real concern despite the gains of the last two weeks,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

Oil prices hovered at elevated levels, with Brent crude ticking down 0.4% after jumping more than 8% on Thursday. The global benchmark traded at $ 106.28 a barrel. Traders remain concerned about lower oil supplies due to longer-term sanctions on Russia amid signs that the conflict may drag on.

Russian and US officials said Thursday that talks between Moscow and Kyiv on a cease-fire had not yielded progress. President Biden is scheduled to speak with China’s Xi Jinping on Friday, and is expected to try to deter Beijing from supporting Russia in the Ukraine war.

Traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.


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The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.167% from 2.192% on Thursday, reversing direction after four straight days of rise. Prices rise when yields fall.

Meme stock

GameStop

dropped 9% after the company posted a surprise loss in the last quarter on Thursday after markets closed.

FedEx

fell 3.7% after it reported lower shipping volumes and said profit margins were coming under pressure.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 ticked down 0.4%.

The Russian stock market remained closed and the central bank has not yet said if it will open next week. The central bank kept its key policy rate steady at 20%. The ruble appreciated 1.3% against the dollar, trading at around 105 rubles to $ 1, after the Russian state avoided default by making coupon payments on dollar-denominated sovereign bonds on Thursday.

“Markets were positioned for a technical default of Russia, people were surprised,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Allianz. This is delivering a boost to the currency, he added.

Russian government bonds rallied as well. A bond maturing next year traded at around 55 cents on the dollar, up from 25 cents at the beginning of the week, according to AdvantageData.

In Asia, most major benchmarks rose. Chinese stocks were mixed, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising for the third consecutive trading session and extending the momentum catalyzed by policy makers in Beijing signaling support for capital markets earlier in the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.4% on Friday but still closed more than 4% higher for the week.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at [email protected]

Corrections & Amplifications
European stocks began trading at 4 am ET. An earlier version of this article mistakenly described moves as of Thursday’s close as having taken place Friday morning.

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