Market Update 02/28/22

Katerina Berezovsky

Market volatility persisted from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28 as Russia is waging war on Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 plunged into correction territory following Russia’s advancement into the Donbas region of Ukraine. The S&P closed over 10% lower from its Jan. 3 high, with all 11 sectors finishing lower, especially the high-growth sectors such as technology. Losses extended into Wednesday as Ukraine declared a state of emergency.

“Investors are de-risking as the situation escalates and uncertainty builds regarding the path forward,”  Lindsey Bell, the chief markets and money strategist for Ally Invest, said.

On Thursday, in response to Putin’s aggression, the United States and its allies issued a new and harsher package of sanctions aimed at punishing Russia’s economy.

The sanctions, however, excluded Russia’s massive energy sector despite its accounting for approximately 36% of the country’s total revenue.

The Biden administration stated that sanctions on Russian energy companies would harm the United States more than it would Russia, as Putin could benefit from the price increase while the United States would intensify its supply shortages and inflated prices.

The decision to neglect sanctions on Russia’s energy sector eased the price of Brent Crude down to $97.93 per barrel by Friday’s close, after surpassing $100 per barrel during the previous day.

The stock market reacted positively to the news on Thursday with an intraday reversal, leaving the major indexes to close with gains. The rally persisted into Friday, with the S&P 500 finishing the turbulent week with a gain of 0.8%, The Nasdaq Composite adding 1.6%, and the Dow Jones finishing relatively flat.

Interestingly, investors reverted to technology and growth stocks during Thursday and Friday’s rally. This flip in sentiment stems from speculation that the geopolitical turmoil could influence the Federal Reserve System in slowing the pace of interest rate increases.

Additionally, many investors view the market volatility to be short-term, stating that now is the time to purchase many growth companies at a bargain.

“Over the long term, geopolitical risks tend to resolve themselves and markets recover. It’s been true of every shock investors have seen since modern capital markets have been in place,” CNBC senior markets correspondent Dominic Chu said.

The two-day upswing ended on Monday, with the S&P 500 down 0.2% and the Dow down 0.5%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq, on the other hand, finished higher by 0.4%. The yield on the U.S. Treasury’s 10-year bond closed lower at 1.865% after hovering close to 2% throughout Thursday and Friday.

While the month began with a focus on inflation pressures and interest rate hikes, it ends with a spotlight on the escalating geopolitical turmoil. Due to the unpredictable nature of war, investors predict that volatility will linger into the coming weeks.

Nonetheless, investors will continue to concentrate on progression between Russia and Ukraine and keep an eye out for critical information from the Fed.