Stocks were trying to hold onto gains as oil prices fell and European economic data showed the Russia-Ukraine war hadn’t dramatically damaged economic activity so far.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 131 points, or 0.4%, one day after the index tumbled 448 points. The
The price of West Texas Intermediate crude was down about 1% on Thursday, which was somewhat of a relief for investors. Oil’s surge on Wednesday was one of reasons for the stock market’s decline. Still, the price is at $114.50 a barrel, nearly 30% above its level before news emerged in February that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was imminent. Markets see a possibility of increased restrictions from western nations on Russian oil, which would limit the global supply. Higher oil and gas prices could cause consumers to pull back on spending.
That doesn’t seem to be stopping companies from preparing for strong demand—for now. The Eurozone Markit Composite Purchasing Managers Index read 54.5 for March, beating estimates of 53.9, “implying the Russia/Ukraine war wasn’t materially slowing growth,” wrote Tom Essaye, founder of Sevens Report Research.
Markets had wanted to see the same in the U.S., too, as economic data at home hits the wires later in the day. But durable goods orders fell 2.2% month over month in February, after having gained 1.6% in January. To be sure, economists expect consumers to spend less on goods and more on services as the pandemic subsides.
Markets are also hoping for some better news out of Ukraine. Leaders from NATO are meeting amid expectations that the Western military alliance will deploy troops to countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Biden will also attend a summit of both the G-7 group of countries and the European Union, later Thursday. New sanctions on Russia could be rolled out.
“It’s now been one month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, and without a doubt it remains the most significant ongoing story in markets,” said Henry Allen, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. “We’ll have to wait and see what further measures might be announced today, but resistance to a full embargo on Russian oil and gas is very much present for now.”
Overall, the stock market has managed to rally, with the S&P 500 up about 7% from its lowest closing level of the year hit earlier this month. But the market isn’t out of the woods yet. More on Russia—and data on the global economy—needs to develop. Plus, the Federal Reserve is insistent on lowering inflation by raising interest rates, which it is expected to do many times in the next couple of years, and markets are still getting a sense of how aggressive the Fed will be in doing so. Most recently, Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed, usually seen as dovish, seems to be turning hawkish. He said at a conference that seven rate hikes this year—the current projection—is appropriate.
Stocks are still struggling to break out to the loftier levels seen earlier this year. The S&P 500, still below the 4,500, has seen sellers come in to send stocks lower several times this year when it rises to between 4,500 and 4,600.
The picture was more mixed overseas. The pan-European
was down 0.2% and Tokyo’s
Here are 5 stocks on the move Thursday:
(LOGI) rose 4.8% after the maker of computer peripheral equipment was initiated at Buy by Bank of America, which said the group represents growth at a reasonable price.
Ping Identity Holding
(PING) stock gained 6.4% after getting upgraded to Buy from Hold at Stifel.
(AA) stock dropped 1.8% after getting downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.
Write to Jack Denton at email@example.com