US stocks erased the previous day’s gains to close lower on Wednesday, March 30, as Russia redoubled attacks in Ukraine and dispelled the claim that Turkey talks represented a turning point in the war.
The S&P 500 fell 0.31% to 4617.21. The Dow Jones declined 0.23% to 35213.54. The NASDAQ Composite retreated 0.17% to 14594.91, and the small-cap Russell 2000 shed 0.23% to 2128.16.
Markets grew concerned after Russian forces stepped up attacks in Ukraine’s Donbas region a day after negotiations in Ankara, facilitated by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yielded no resolution.
According to the UN, over four million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the war broke out last month, the highest number of displaced people in Europe since World War II.
The EU and the US are now contemplating new bank sanctions, targeting additional family members of Russian oligarchs. They also plan to set up joint task forces to check the use of cryptocurrencies that may undermine the sanctions and implement the measures adopted so far.
Stocks have been volatile this month as prices, from oil to Treasury bonds, became more uncertain. International benchmark Brent crude prices climbed to US$110.94 a barrel on Wednesday.
Natural-gas prices rose after Germany indicated a possible reduction in Russian supplies. However, oil and gas prices were higher even before Russia invaded Ukraine.
In a separate development, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has further tightened its supervision of blank-check companies. On Wednesday, it announced new rules to plug the gaps in its security processes against fraud, conflict of interests, information irregularities, market practices, etc.
On Wednesday, energy and utilities were the only sectors to stay in the positive territory on the S&P 500. Consumer cyclicals, financials, and technology segments were the bottom movers.
In energy stocks, Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) gained 1.71%, Shell plc (SHEL) was up 4.04%, and Chevron Corporation (CVX) saw a marginal increase of 0.71%. Shares of PetroChina Company Limited (PTR), Equinor ASA (EQNR) and BP plc (BP) advanced 1.76%, 5.90%, and 1.55%, respectively.
In the materials sector, shares of BHP Group Limited (BHP) rose 3.29%, Linde plc (LIN) declined 0.22%, and Rio Tinto Group (RIO) increased by 2.70%.
In utilities, NextEra Energy, Inc (NEE) stock gained 1.04%, Duke Energy Corporation (DUK) gained 0.46%, and The Southern Company (SO) rose 0.61%.
In the technology segment, Apple Inc. (AAPL) declined 0.66%, Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) fell 0.49%, and NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) retreated 3.37%. The TSMC Limited (TSM) stock declined 2.31%.
Healthcare stocks UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH) rose 1.98%, and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) gained 1.04%. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) rose 0.57% and 0.97%, respectively.
In consumer cyclicals, Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) declined 1.78% and 0.51%.
Financial stocks Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK-B) gained 0.70%, while Visa Inc. (V) fell 1.83%.
The cryptocurrency market was up 0.42% to US$2.16 trillion at around 4 pm ET on Wednesday. Bitcoin (BTC) declined 0.62% to US$47,185.04 at the same time.
Futures & Commodities
Gold futures were up 1.08% to US$1,932.80 per ounce. Silver declined 0.01% to US$25.030 per ounce, while copper fell 0.01% to US$4.7460.
Brent oil futures rose 0.13% to US$110.94 per barrel and WTI crude rose 3.05% to US$107.42 a barrel.
The 30-year Treasury bond yields fell 1.73% to 2.480, while the 10-year bond yields declined 1.75% to 2.358.
US Dollar Index Futures fell 0.55% to US$ 97.900.