S&P 500 closes flat on Wednesday as investors assess the Fed’s next move, Russia-Ukraine risk
U.S. stocks dipped Wednesday as traders assessed the Russia-Ukraine conflict and awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 250 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 shares eased 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1%.
ViacomCBS was the biggest loser in the S&P 500 on Wednesday, with shares falling more than 21% after the company said it is rebranding itself as Paramount Global to focus on streaming. The company also reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings.
Shares of Wynn Resorts dipped more than 1% after the casino operator beat on revenue, but posted a larger-than-expected loss per share.
Facebook parent Meta Platforms shares fell around 2% after the tech giant reportedly rolled out a new set of corporate values in its latest attempt to manage its demoralized employees.
Markets have been driven largely by concerns over the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Federal Reserve’s plan to hike interest rates.
“Geopolitical risk is something that’s very, very hard to trade and it’s something that we like to not overplay, so … you kind of have to wait out,” Delano Saporu, CEO of New Street Advisors Group, told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
In the most recent geopolitical developments, NATO officials on Wednesday accused Russia of massing troops at the Ukrainian border.
Energy prices, which have been sensitive to the news, moved sharply higher Wednesday, with natural gas up more than 4% and oil prices climbing more than 1%.
The Cboe Volatility Index — known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge” — rose 2%, sitting above the 26 level.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon addressed the latest developments between Russia and Ukraine, reiterating that the U.S. will defend NATO territory.
“If Russia proceeds, we will rally the world,” Biden said, adding that Washington’s allies were ready to impose powerful sanctions that will “undermine Russia’s ability to compete economically and strategically.”
The comments came after the Russian government said earlier on Tuesday that some troops who had been on the Ukrainian border had returned to their bases.
This helped boost sentiment on Wall Street, with the major averages snapping a three-day losing streak Tuesday.
On the data front, retail sales surged 3.8% in January, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Economists expected the report to show sales rose 2.1% in January after a 1.9% decline in December.
As inflation runs hot, Wall Street is looking ahead to the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting, which will be released Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
The summary could be viewed as stale considering the meeting happened before the most recent economic releases. However, investors will be searching for any new insights into the number and size of rate hikes, as well as details of a balance sheet reduction plan.