NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks sank Friday as worries about an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine piled onto Wall Street’s already heavy list of concerns about inflation and interest rates. Treasury yields fell sharply as investors sought safety, and oil prices spiked more than 3%. The S&P 500 dropped 1.9% after the White House urged U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine in the next 24 to 48 hours. Tech pulled back more than other sectors, erasing 2.8% from the Nasdaq. Knee-jerk swings swept through other markets as investors pulled money out of riskier assets like stocks and shifted it into havens such as bonds and gold.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks and Treasury yields are falling sharply Friday, as worries about an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine pile onto Wall Street’s already heavy list of concerns about inflation and interest rates.
The S&P 500 was 1.9% lower in afternoon trading after the White House encouraged all U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine in the next 24 to 48 hours, before possible military action by Russia. The price of oil rose more than 3%.
Stocks took a sudden turn lower around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, with losses for the S&P 500 nearly tripling in about half an hour. Similar, knee-jerk swings swept through other markets as investors pulled money out of riskier things like stocks and moved instead toward the safety of bonds and gold.
They’re just the latest sharp veers in what’s already been a tumultuous 2022 for markets. Wall Street has been shaking as investors come to grips with a Federal Reserve forced to aggressively remove the low interest rates that markets love due to high inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 467 points, or 1.3%, at 34,774, as of 3:12 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq was 2.8% lower. Both are on track for a weekly loss, and the S&P 500 is on pace for its first in three weeks.
Tensions have been simmering for a while about possible military action by Russia, and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday that the United States did not have definitive information that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an invasion. But he also said that “the threat is now immediate enough that prudence demands that it is the time to leave now” for Americans in the country.
Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers, and the warnings gave oil prices an immediate jolt. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 3.3% to settle at $94.44 barrel amid the possibility that violence could disprupt supplies. U.S. crude rose 3.6% to settle at $93.10 per barrel.
Gold also rose, gaining about $20 in 20 minutes during the afternoon to top $1,860 per ounce, as investors searched for safety.
A similar rush for stability also drove investors in Treasury bonds, which in turn lowered their yields. The 10-year Tresaury yield fell to 1.93% after from roughly 2.03% earlier in the afternoon.
For bonds, it’s a sharp U-turn for yields after steadily marching higher on expectations that the Fed will raise rates more often and by a sharper degree this year than expected. Just a day earlier, the 10-year yield topped 2% for the first time since 2019.
Forecasts for a more aggressive Fed got a huge jolt on Thursday, when a report on inflation came in hotter than expected and showed that inflation was at a 40-year high. The Fed can slow the economy and inflation by raising interest rates, something it hasn’t done since 2018, but higher rates also put downward pressure on stocks and other investments.
Economists at Goldman Sachs just increased their forecast for rate increases this year by the Fed to seven from five, for example.
Much of the market’s volatility in early 2022 has centered around events related to the Fed and inflation. Besides Thursday’s report on inflation, other flashpoints included the release of the minutes of a Fed policy meeting that said it may reverse its bond-buying program earlier than expected.
The market also shuddered earlier this month after Facebook’s parent company reported surprisingly weak results for its latest quarter, threatening the belief that continued profit growth can help stocks power through the downward pressures created by higher rates.
Markets will likely remain volatile as the Fed moves closer to raising rates and investors gauge the impact.
“What we’re going through is likely going to continue in the short run,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
The prospect for violence in Ukraine only adds more uncertainty, though some on Wall Street said it will likely ultimately recede in importance to markets.
“You can’t minimize what today’s news could mean on that part of the world and the people impacted, but from an investment point of view we need to remember that major geopolitical events historically haven’t moved stocks much,” Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial wrote in a research note.
“For instance, after JFK was assassinated in November 1963 stocks went on one of their best 6 month runs ever. The truth is a solid economy can make up for a lot of sins.”
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