Stocks rise, recovering some losses as oil prices sink

Stocks rose Wednesday to recover some losses after a volatile start to the week, as concerns over the impact of the punitive measures countries and companies have taken against Russia weighed on U.S. equity markets.

The S&P 500 closed 2.6% higher at 4,277.89 — posting its biggest gain since June 2020. The Dow gained 650 points, or 2%, closing at 33,286.25. The Nasdaq jumped 3.6% closing at 13,255.55, logging its biggest advance since exactly a year ago on March 9, 2021. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, dropped nearly 10% but still held above the 30 level. A day earlier, the S&P 500 dropped another 0.7% on Tuesday to bring its year-to-date losses to 12.5%. The Dow shed more than 0.5% to sink further into a correction, while the Nasdaq Composite extended losses after sliding into a bear market earlier this week.

Crude oil prices pulled back from 14-year highs after Ukraine signaled it was aiming to pursue a diplomatic solution to Russia’s war. West Texas intermediate crude sank to just over $110 per barrel, while Brent crude traded just above $112 per barrel Wednesday afternoon. Gas prices at the pump, however, spiked to a fresh high across the U.S.

“You can’t have the rise at the fuel pumps not hit the economic pockets of everyday Americans, because it’s going to make everything go up in costs,” Victoria Greene, G-Squared Private Wealth founding partner, told Yahoo Finance Live. “Anything that rides on four wheels or six wheels, including all your shipping — it’s going to make all your costs rise. We’re already in an inflationary environment … it really is going to be something that we have to watch.”

“I don’t think that sanctions are going to go away,” she added. “The world is … angry at this situation. So let’s say miraculously we get a ceasefire tomorrow, I think the general shrinkage and the issues with supply chains are going to be a sticky situation for the rest of the year.”

And beyond the growing list of government-imposed sanctions against Russia, a myriad of major U.S. companies announced fresh plans to stop doing business in Russia for the foreseeable future. In the restaurants space, McDonald’s (MCD), Starbucks (SBUX), Coca-Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) said they would close some or all operations in Russia. Amazon Web Services said it would stop bringing on new sign-ups from Russia and Belarus, and Shopify announced it was suspending operations in the countries as well.

Given the ongoing geopolitical uncertainty and push to isolate Russia from the global economy, some strategists suggested investors should brace for more market volatility.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom yet. And I’d like to be more optimistic, but the reason I say this is, when it comes to oil [and] other commodities, we’re still seeing shocks make their way through the system,” Ann Berry, Wheelhouse chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday.

“We’re not done when it comes to oil and gas yet,” she added. “The U.K. and Europe have said that by the end of this year they’ll start weaning themselves from Russian exports – it’s not fast enough. And if the situation in Ukraine doesn’t get better, I do think there’s a scenario here where Europe will be pushed to take tougher actions faster, which is going to send oil prices only one way which is up from where it is right now.”

4:00 p.m. ET: Nasdaq jumps 3.6% in biggest advance in a year

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:00 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +107.16 (+2.57%) to 4,277.86

  • Dow (^DJI): +652.65 (+2.00%) to 33,285.29

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +459.99 (+3.59%) to 13,255.55

  • Crude (CL=F): -$14.10 (-11.40%) to $109.60 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$49.40 (-2.42%) to $1,993.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +7.6 bps to yield 1.9480%

1:11 p.m. ET: Crude oil prices sink, Brent drops more than 12% after Ukraine official says country is ‘ready for a diplomatic solution’

Prices for West Texas intermediate and Brent crude oil prices sank Wednesday afternoon after a Ukrainian foreign policy aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the country was “ready for a diplomatic solution,” according to an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“Our first and foremost pre-condition for having such kind of negotiations is immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Russian troops,” Ihor Zhovkva, deputy chief of staff to Zelenskiy, told Bloomberg. He added, however, that Ukraine would not trade “a single inch” of Ukrainian territory to Russia, and noted that Ukraine will continue to pursue NATO membership.

Zelenskiy also reiterated to German media outlet Bild TV Wednesday that he believed “only after the direct talks between the two presidents can we end this war,” referring to discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. For now, Zelenskiy has not had direct contact with Putin.

Brent crude oil prices dropped more than 12% to trade just above $112 per barrel, while West Texas intermediate sank to hover just over $111 per barrel.

10:47 a.m. ET: Bitcoin prices jump 9%, topping $42,000 after Biden announces crypto regulation executive order

The White House on Wednesday unveiled President Joe Biden’s executive order creating a framework for agencies to study and come up with a government-wide approach to regulating cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin prices jumped nearly 10% to top $42,000 following the announcement, which had been hinted at for weeks now. The executive order was originally set to be signed last month, though the timing was shifted due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Yahoo Finance’s Jennifer Schonberger reported.

One of the key tenets of the order calls for the government to explore a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

“The Order directs the U.S. Government to assess the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests,” according to the White House. “The Order also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development, and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work.”

10:14 a.m. ET: Job openings hold near record high in January: JOLTS

U.S. job openings held at a near-record level in January, with widespread labor shortages still weighing on the domestic economy while keeping leverage high for workers looking to switch jobs.

Vacancies totaled 11.263 million in the first month of 2022, the Labor Department said in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) on Wednesday. This compared to an upwardly revised 11.4 million openings in December, which marked a record in data going back to 2001. Consensus economists were looking for 10.950 million vacancies for January, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

The number of quits in January edged down just slightly, or by 151,000 compared to December, to reach 4.3 million. And the quits rate decreased to 2.8%, which was still elevated but retreated from December’s record high of 3%.

9:32 a.m. ET: Stocks open sharply higher, Nasdaq gains more than 2%

The three major indexes posted a rebound Wednesday morning to pare some recent declines as investors eyed the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and mounting global sanctions.

The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq moved sharply higher Wednesday morning. Technology stocks led the way higher, helping the Nasdaq jump more than 2%. The Dow added more than 500 points, or 1.8%. In the S&P 500, the consumer discretionary, information technology and financial sectors led the way higher.

Treasury yields rose across the curve as peak concerns over U.S. and global economic growth came down, and investors rotated back toward risk assets. The benchmark 10-year yield rose by nearly 4 basis points to break above 1.9%.

7:22 a.m. ET: Stocks point to a higher open, Dow futures gain 450+ point

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +64.75 points (+1.55%) to 4,233.50

  • Dow (^DJI): +459.00 (+1.41%) to 33,061.00

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +257.50 (+1.94%) to 13,524.50

  • Crude (CL=F): -$2.81 (-2.27%) to $120.89 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$21.60 (-1.06%) to $2,021.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.9 bps to yield 1.91%

6:10 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open lower

Here’s where stocks were trading Tuesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -11.50 points (-0.28%) to 4,157.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -44 points (-0.13%) to 32,558.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -53.25 points (-0.4%) to 13,213.75

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 08: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 08, 2022 in New York City. The Dow was up slightly in morning trading as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to unsettle global markets. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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