Stock Market Today – 3/25: Stocks Edge Higher; US and Europe Reach Natural Gas Supply Deal

U.S. equity futures edged higher Friday, while oil prices slumped lower and the dollar gave back gains against its global peers, as investors looked to close out a volatile week for stocks as troops on both sides of Russia’s war on Ukraine hold ground after a month of intensive fighting in eastern Europe.

President Joe Biden, who held a series of summits with EU, G-7 and NATO leaders yesterday, is set to travel to Poland on Friday for a first-hand look at the region’s refugee crisis, which has displaced more than 10 million people, United Nations officials have estimated.

Biden, who unveiled a series of sanctions on Russian lawmakers yesterday, also agreed to boost natural gas exports to Europe to around 15 billion cubic feet per year, a figure that would ease the region’s reliance on Russian exports by around one-third.

“Today we’ve agreed on a joint game plan toward that goal while accelerating our progress toward a secure clean energy future,” the President said. “”I know eliminating Russian gas will have costs for Europe, but it’s the right thing to do, and it will put us on a stronger strategic footing.”

Oil prices, which have swung wildly for most of the week, were in retreat Friday, with WTI crude futures for May delivery falling $2.43 from yesterday’s close to change hands at $110.03 per barrel while Brent contracts for the same month were marked $2.18 lower at $116.85 per barrel.

Still, with oil prices up more than 52% so far this year, the broader commodity complex is on pace for its best annual gains since 1915, according to data from Bank of America’s ‘Flow Show’ report, which charted another $2.1 billion worth of funds into gold investments over the past week.

Benchmark 10-year note yields were also holding firm at 2.365% in overnight trading, pegging the gap with 2-year note yields at just 21 basis point, the lowest since the spring pandemic trough of April 2020.

On Wall Street, with pending home sales and consumer confidence data due at 10:00 am Eastern time, stock futures are suggesting a muted open for the three major benchmarks, with futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a 90 point opening bell gain, while the  S&P 500, which is down 5.16% for the year, are priced for a 13 point bump.

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Apple  (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report and other big tech stocks were more muted as European Union lawmakers signaled the launch of a broad array of rules aimed at reigning in the influence of some of the world’s biggest companies.

EU Competition Commissioner Antitrust Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Brussels Friday that the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which was first unveiled last year, is likely to be enacted in October, with tech companies that compile customer data while controlling access to their platforms having around six months to comply with the new rules, or face fines of as much as 20% of global revenues for repeat offenders.

Apple shares were marked 0.01% higher in pre-market trading at $174.23 each, while Google GOOGL gained 0.26% to $2,838.70 each. Futures contracts tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq are indicating a 60 point opening bell gain.

U.S.-listed cannabis stocks were also active, and surging higher, following a report that suggested lawmakers could vote on legislation that would legalize the use of marijuana nationwide as early as next week.

Tilray  (TLRY) – Get Tilray Brands, Inc. Report shares were marked 14.6% higher in pre-market trading Friday following reports of the House vote to indicate an opening bell price of $8 each, while Canopy Growth  (CGC) – Get Canopy Growth Corporation Report leaped 10% to $8.69 each.

Rival Aurora Cannabis  (ACB) – Get Aurora Cannabis Inc. Report was marked 13.9% higher at $4.60 each while Cronos Group  (CRON) – Get Cronos Group Inc Report jumped 8% to $4.30 each.

Okta  (OKTA) – Get Okta, Inc. Class A Report shares extended their recent as police in Britain arrested seven suspects linked to a hacking group that compromised the access management and cloud identity group’s systems earlier this year.

City of London police told Reuters Friday that seven suspects, believed to be between the ages of 16 and 21, were detailed and release pending investigation into both the Okta hack as well as an earlier attack on the systems of chipmaker Nvidia  (NVDA) – Get NVIDIA Corporation Report.

Boeing  (BA) – Get Boeing Company Report shares slipped 0.3% lower amid reports that the the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration may not certify a lengthened version of the 737 MAX before a deadline set by Congress earlier this year.

Boeing shares have also been sensitive to headlines linked to the fatal crash of a 737-800 aircraft in China, where authorities continue to search for the flight recorder of the China Eastern Airlines jet that went down Monday, killing as 132 passengers and crew on board. 

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