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Wall St struggles for direction as Ukraine-Russia tensions linger

Wall St struggles for direction as Ukraine-Russia tensions linger

Headlines around escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia's conflict with Ukraine have rattled markets this week.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 26, 2022. (Photo: Reuters) Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 26, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

US stocks struggled for direction on Friday, as investors kept a wary eye on building tensions in Ukraine heading into a long weekend.

Western powers warned that Russia's military build-up around Ukraine was continuing and an invasion was possible at any time, while Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said they planned to evacuate residents. read more

Headlines around escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia's conflict with Ukraine have rattled markets this week, putting the main indexes on track for their second straight weekly losses.

"These geopolitical concerns don't necessarily have a direct impact on the capital markets, but it has the ability to create uncertainty," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut.

"Nobody wants to go into the long weekend overly exposed."

Expiration of monthly options contracts was also seen adding to the volatility.

At 10:07 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 62.03 points, or 0.18%, at 34,374.06, the S&P 500 was up 9.25 points, or 0.21%, at 4,389.51, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 7.98 points, or 0.06%, at 13,708.74.

Defensive sectors rose the most, with real estate leading the pack with a 0.5% rise, while technology stocks (.SPLRCT) fell 0.6%.

There was a measure of relief among investors after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday agreed to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week, raising hope of a diplomatic solution. 

Still, the CBOE volatility index (.VIX), also known as Wall Street's fear gauge, was last up 27.92 points, well above its long-term average of 20.

JPMorgan (JPM.N) jumped 1.1% after it upgraded its full-year net interest income forecast. 

Other big banks traded mixed as did mega-cap growth stocks, with Amazon down 0.4%, while Google parent Alphabet rose 0.8%.

Speculations about the Federal Reserve's policy tightening plans added to the downbeat mood this week. A flurry of appearances from Fed members are scheduled on Friday. The Fed's next monetary policy decision is due in about a month's time.

"The worry is whether the pivot away from pandemic-era stimulus will squeeze economic growth and inject more turbulence across asset classes," said Christian Stocker, lead equity strategist at UniCredit Bank.

Lithium producer Livent Corp gained 2.9% after forecasting upbeat 2022 revenue, while Deere & Co added 1% after the world's largest farm equipment maker raised its annual profit outlook. 

DuPont climbed 2.6% after the industrial materials maker said it would sell most of its mobility and materials business for $11 billion to Celanese Corp . Shares of Celanese gained 3%. 

Roku Inc tumbled 22.9% after the streaming platform's disappointing quarterly revenue and first-quarter outlook.

DraftKings Inc shed 15.2% after the sports betting company forecast a bigger-than anticipated 2022 loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.57-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.03-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and 19 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 208 new lows.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 26, 2022.

Published on: Feb 18, 2022, 9:39 PM IST
Posted by: Mohammad Haaris Beg, Feb 18, 2022, 9:34 PM IST