S&P 500 down 2% as Ukraine crisis sparks flight to safety

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Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York

– U.S. stocks tumbled on Thursday, with investors hastening a move late in the session toward defensive sectors and safe havens such as U.S. bonds and gold as geopolitical tensions between Washington and Russia over Ukraine flared.

U.S. President Joe Biden said there was every indication Russia was planning to invade Ukraine in the next few days and was preparing a pretext to justify it, after Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow rebels traded fire in eastern Ukraine. [.N]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 622.24 points, or 1.78%, to 34,312.03, the S&P 500 lost 94.75 points, or 2.12%, to 4,380.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 407.38 points, or 2.88%, to 13,716.72.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note fell more than 7 basis points as investors bought U.S. government debt, considered among the most secure assets. Gold, another traditional safe-haven, went up 1.6%, having topped $1,900 an ounce for the first time since June.

COMMENTS FROM MARKET PROFESSIONALS:

MICHAEL JAMES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EQUITY TRADING, WEDBUSH SECURITIES, LOS ANGELES

“There’s a lot of nervousness out there and as we approach the weekend nothing’s been settled between Russia and Ukraine.”

“The continued weakness, especially in the growth names, is indicative of elevated nervousness and sellers continuing to swamp buyers in just about every stock.”

PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, SPARTAN CAPITAL SECURITIES, NEW YORK


“It’s obviously all about the Ukraine-Russia situation. There seems to be solid evidence on the part of the West that Russia has not really pulled out of the Ukraine but has increased troops along the border.”

“The market is basically under pressure due to the geopolitical situation.”

“The Fed is taking a back seat at the moment.”

PHIL ORLANDO, CHIEF EQUITY STRATEGIST, FEDERATED HERMES, NEW YORK

“You look at the history of this country and our adversaries love to test us during periods of leadership transition and it could very well end ugly, we don’t think it will, but it certainly could.”

“Based upon the timing of what is going on with the Federal Reserve, what is going on with inflation, what is going on with the geopolitical risk, we felt the first two to three quarters of the year were going to be very choppy as the market digests that.”

JOE MANIMBO, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, WESTERN UNION BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, WASHINGTON

“Safe havens are outperforming as today’s geopolitical development dampened hopes for a diplomatic deal to avert military action around Ukraine.”

(Compiled by the Global Finance & Markets Breaking News team)


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