Wall Street was mixed as Russia’s war on Ukraine fueled uncertainty

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S. March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 3, 2022

By Devik Jain and Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indices struggled for direction on Thursday, with growth stocks like Tesla and Advanced Micro Devices losing ground as the Ukraine crisis kept investors on edge.

Tesla lost 3.2% and Advanced Micro Devices lost 4.9%, while the S&P 500 growth index fell 0.6%.

Reflecting dovish sentiment on Wall Street, the S&P 500 utility index rose 1.9% and real estate rose 1.1%.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now a week past, hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed and Russia itself has been thrown into isolation.

“The market is totally fixated on what this geopolitical turmoil looks like,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategist at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “We’re kind of in uncharted territory here, so you end up in those days where there’s kind of no common thread.”

Soaring prices for oil and other commodities have fueled fears that recent high inflation could coincide with sluggish economic growth, making it harder for the Federal Reserve and other major central banks to manage interest rates. [O/R]

The percentage of fund managers expecting so-called stagflation within the next 12 months was 30%, compared to 22% last month, a survey by BofA Global Research showed.

Wall Street rose sharply in the previous session after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he would back a quarter-point rate hike at the March 15-16 meeting, assuaging some fears of a more aggressive rate hike.

“We will remain range bound until the Fed meeting in two weeks because of limited yields,” predicted Jay Hatfield, chief investment officer at Infrastructure Capital Management in New York.

“There’s no real reason to wait long, unless of course there is some peace or stability in Ukraine, which doesn’t seem likely.”

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was on track to end lower for the second straight month.

In afternoon trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.22% to 33,965.52 points, while the S&P 500 was down 0.03% to 4,385.16.

The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.96% to 13,619.64, reflecting weakness in growth stocks.

Meanwhile, data showed that a measure of US service industry activity fell to a yearly low in February and employment fell.

Kroger Co rose 11% after the grocer forecast upbeat full-year same-store sales and profits, buoyed by strong demand for its pickup and delivery services and ongoing trends in home cooking.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc slid over 9% after the apparel chain forecast an earnings decline for the first half of 2022.

Declining issues outweighed increases on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.25 to 1; on the Nasdaq, a 1.91 to 1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite posted 41 new highs and 152 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, California; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and Grant McCool) Wall Street was mixed as Russia’s war on Ukraine fueled uncertainty

Caroline Bleakley

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