Dow Futures Fall and Oil Fluctuates on Russia-Ukraine Tensions — and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Stock futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street Monday and oil prices fluctuated as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine rattled markets.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 214 points, or 0.62%, to 34,413, S&P 500 futures fell 0.68% and Nasdaq futures declined 0.79%.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded flat at $93.11 a barrel but rose to as high as $94.94 earlier Monday after reaching an eight-year high on Friday following a warning from the White House that Russia could invade Ukraine “any day now.” Crude oil prices haven’t topped $100 a barrel since 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal.

European stocks posted sharp losses early Monday, and shares in Asia finished solidly in the red. U.S. Treasury yields declined.

President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. and other allies would “impose swift and severe costs,” according to White House officials. 

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer.

The tensions in Russia added to concerns on Wall Street about rising inflation, the potential for a series of interest rates hikes from the Federal Reserve and slumping consumer sentiment. Those factors led to sharp losses for Wall Street on Friday.

“By pushing energy prices even higher, a Russian invasion would likely exacerbate inflation and redouble pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates,” said Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. “From the Fed’s perspective, the inflationary effects of a Russian invasion and higher energy prices would likely outweigh the shock’s negative implications for global growth.” 

Katerina Simonetti, senior vice president and private wealth advisor at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, said she has been telling clients to “prepare for extra volatility” as the Federal Reserve begins boosting interest rates in to dampen inflation.

“The markets have become accustomed to significant support from central banks and the curtailment of even small amounts of stimulus has the ability to spark sizable moves in stocks,” Simonetti said. She recommended that investors focus on stock sectors that can perform well regardless of inflation or Federal Reserve policy, such as health care, real estate, consumer staples, industrials, and REITs.

Write to Joe Woelfel at joseph.woelfel@barrons.com

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