Market Update 03/28/22

Katerina Berezovsky

Markets continued their ascent from March 22 to March 28, despite the ongoing RussoUkrainian war, intensifying sanctions and inflationary pressures.

On Tuesday, all major indexes built onto the previous week’s gains with The Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.7%, the S&P 500 rising 1.1% and the Nasdaq composite rising 2%. While the Federal Reserve officially began its rate hiking process, equity investors are optimistic that the hikes indicate confidence from the Fed in the stability of the U.S. economy.

“The message that came out of the [Fed] meeting last week is that they are going to be tightening [monetary policy] but the U.S. economy is resilient enough to withstand that,” Huw Roberts, head of analytics at data analytics firm Quant Insight, told The Wall Street Journal.

Nonetheless, markets declined on Wednesday, reflecting a 5.3% increase in the price of Brent Crude oil to $121.60 per barrel, the third-highest settlement value of the year.

The spike in price came after an announcement by Russian officials on Tuesday, saying that oil exports could fall by 1 million barrels a day as the Caspian Pipeline Consortium from Kazakhstan to the Black Sea undergoes repairs from storm damage.

In addition to oil, investors worry that the prices of many key commodities, which are experiencing all-time highs, may continue to climb higher as Russia advances their attack on Ukraine, and China’s temporary lockdowns complicate factory production.

On Wednesday, China’s largest steelmaking city, Tangshan, suspended operations despite its accounting for nearly 13% of China’s total production.

“Inflation is still the 800-pound gorilla,” Doug Sandler, the global head of strategy at RiverFront Investment Group, told The Wall Street Journal. “The concern is that rising prices will force the Federal Reserve to raise rates faster than investors had previously expected.” .

All major indexes climbed on Thursday and into Friday, where they finished higher for two consecutive weeks. The Dow closed the week up 0.3%, the Nasdaq was up 2% and the S&P 500 was up 1.8%, with a combined two week gain of 8.1%.

On Friday, the 10-year Treasury yield hit 2.340%, its highest level in nearly three years. The yield later declined to 2.476% by Monday’s close. Additionally, the price of Brent Crude declined 6.8% on Monday, to $112.48 per barrel as pandemic restrictions in Shanghai are anticipated to lessen the energy demand in China.

While the recent upswing in the market has been taken as a sign of recovery, many investors worry that it is merely a short-term climb in a long-term bear market. Considering energy prices have been a strong indicator of market performance over the past few weeks, investors will likely stay watchful of any news regarding supply bottlenecks and further energy price increases.