The S&P 500 was steady on Tuesday following the benchmark’s worst day since October 2020, as investors remained on edge about surging commodity prices and slowing economic growth stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The S&P 500 traded 0.1% lower, after its largest one-day decline in more than a year on Monday. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.4%, falling further into bear market territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added about 70 points, helped by gains in Caterpillar and Chevron.
Rising prices for oil, gasoline, natural gas, and precious metals like nickel and palladium are fueling concerns about a slowdown in global growth. Paired with soaring inflation, investors could be facing a risk-off period.
“The Russia/Ukraine conflict, commodity price spikes, inflation concerns, and a very uncertain Fed outlook
have caused recession fears to rapidly intensify and equity markets to sell off sharply,” said Chris Senyek, Wolfe Research chief investment strategist, in a note.
WTI crude oil jumped about 4% to near $124 a barrel on Tuesday as NBC News reported the U.S. is set to ban Russian oil as soon as Tuesday.
Oil prices spiked to start the week with U.S. crude hitting a 13-year high of $130.
The international benchmark, Brent crude, reached a high of $139.13 at one point overnight Sunday before settling at $123.21 per barrel, its highest since July 2008. Brent most recently was up 3.4% to $127.36.
The jump in crude is already starting to hit consumers’ wallets. The national average for a gallon of regular gas rose to $4.173 on Tuesday, according to AAA. The prior record was $4.114 from July 2008, not adjusted for inflation.
Shares of Chevron and Exxon each rose 2.6% and 2.5%, respectively. Plus, solar and other clean energy stocks moved higher as the continued rise in oil prices shifted focus toward alternative energy sources. Enphase Energy and SunPower added 3.9% and 6.8%, respectively.
Other commodity prices also resumed their push higher. Nickel prices on Tuesday briefly touched a new record above $100,000 a metric ton.
Futures for palladium, a key metal in the manufacture of electronics, jumped another 5% to $3.04 an ounce, while platinum futures rose nearly 3% to $1,149.70 an ounce.
Treasury yields also were sharply higher, with the benchmark 10-year note up close to 10 basis points to 1.85% as investors shed bonds as inflation fears escalate. Yields move opposite price.
The market action came after a steep sell-off on Wall Street where the S&P 500 dropped nearly 3% for its worst day since October 2020. The blue-chip Dow tumbled almost 800 points for its fifth negative session in six, while the Nasdaq Composite, which contains many of the market’s biggest tech names, slid 3.6%, falling into bear market territory, down 20% from its record high from November.
Investors continued to monitor developments of escalated geopolitical tensions. Ukraine said Moscow is seeking to manipulate its cease-fire arrangement by only allowing Ukrainian civilians to evacuate to Russia and Belarus.
Shell apologized for buying cheap Russian oil and said it was divesting itself of all hydrocarbon holdings in the country. Russia itself warned that crude prices could hit $300 a barrel should Western countries enact a ban on exports. Shell shares popped 3% on Tuesday.
“There seems to be no evidence of improvements in Ukraine and the rhetoric out of D.C. continues to get more hawkish,” said Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth. “While it’s impossible to know where the ultimate bottom may be, from a risk-reward standpoint, the market looks very reasonable.”
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