Wall Street powers stocks higher, oil lower as world leaders press Russia

Technology companies lift US stock indexes after a sharp fall in the previous session, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up nearly 2% on Thursday, March 24

US stocks rose following choppy trading abroad on Thursday, March 24, and oil prices pulled back, as investors watched Western leaders present a unified front against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Technology companies lifted US stock indexes after a sharp fall in the previous session, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 269.24 points, or nearly 2%, to 14,191.84.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 349.44 points, or about 1%, to 34,707.94 and the S&P 500 gained 63.92 points, or 1.43%, to 4,520.16.

The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index ticked down 0.2% and MSCI’s main world stocks index, which no longer includes Russian companies, gained 0.71%.

Western leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday agreed to strengthen their forces in Eastern Europe, increase military aid to Ukraine, and their tighten sanctions on Russia as Moscow’s assault on its neighbor entered its second month.

As world leaders committed to additional economic pressures, BlackRock chairman Larry Fink said in a letter Thursday to shareholders of his $10-trillion firm that near-global economic and political isolation of Russia by many governments and businesses “has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades.”

The dollar rose for the fourth time in the past five sessions, as economic data on the US labor market helped firm expectations that the Fed will be more aggressive in taking steps to curb inflation.

The dollar index rose 0.15%, with the euro down 0.05% to $1.099.

“The sharp hawkish repricing of Fed rate hike expectations has mainly benefited the US dollar against low yielding currencies whose own domestic central banks are expected to lag well behind the Fed in tightening policy,” MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman wrote in a note to clients.

Hawkish

US Treasuries resumed their sell-off Thursday, driving bond yields higher, also prodded by the fresh labor market data and pressure on the Fed to hike rates.

Top Federal Reserve policymakers have all week signaled they stood ready to take more aggressive action to bring down decades-high inflation, including a possible half-percentage-point rate hike at the next policy meeting in May. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari added on Thursday he has penciled in seven quarter-point interest rate hikes this year, but warning against going too far.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was up 4.2 basis points to 2.363%; The 2-year US Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was up 1.3 basis points at 2.126%.

Crude prices slid around 3% on Thursday after the European Union could not agree on a plan to boycott Russian oil and on reports that exports from Kazakhstan’s Caspian Pipeline Consortium terminal could partially resume.

After rising more than 5% on Wednesday, March 23, US crude fell 3.13% to $111.33 per barrel and Brent was at $118.01, down nearly 3% on the day.

Goldman Sachs market analysts estimated that it would take a sustained oil price increase to $200 per barrel to produce an income shock similar in magnitude to those that precipitated US recessions in the 1970s.

“While we cannot rule out such an outcome, $200 is significantly above our commodity team’s upside-risk estimate of $165,” they wrote in a note late on Wednesday.

Gold rose to a more than one-week high on Thursday as concerns over soaring prices and uncertainty surrounding the war in Ukraine lifted bullion’s appeal as a safe-haven and an inflation hedge. Spot gold added 0.9% to $1,961.43 an ounce. – Rappler.com

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