Saturday, February 26, 2022

War? What War?

The stock market scored an amazing comeback this week, initially selling off on the deteriorating Russia-Ukraine situation, then rallying on optimism that the conflict could have only a minimal impact on the U.S. economy. 

The S&P 500 closed the week with a 0.8% gain after falling as much as 5.5%, the Nasdaq Composite increased 1.1% after plunging as much as 7%, the Dow Jones nearly broke even after losing 5.3% midweek, and U.S. West Texas crude oil pulled back after briefly topping $100 per barrel. 

The turnaround came after President Biden issued targeted sanctions Thursday afternoon that did not affect Russia's oil and gas exports or block Russia's access to the SWIFT financial system, sparking the rebound that continued into Friday. 

At the same time, the shock and uncertainty of a war in Europe could discourage the Federal Reserve from being aggressive about hiking interest rates, which had been weighing on stocks before Russia's invasion.

Outlook: Western intelligence officials warned Kyiv could fall to Russian forces in the coming days as intense fighting continues. Ukraine's air defenses have held up better than anticipated, although the Russian military controls several airfields that it could use to transport more troops into the country. The end-game for Vladimir Putin would be to install a puppet regime in Kyiv, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has promised to defend his nation, saying that he and his government will remain in the capital. (Source: Seeking Alpha)

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