Today's Market: Russian Troops Enter Ukraine, Meritor Surges 45%, Oil Hits $96

Stocks drop after Putin orders troops into eastern Ukraine

Stocks are falling and oil is again jumping after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two regions of eastern Ukraine. European nations imposed sanctions including Germany halting progress on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that brings Russian gas to the country.

Shares of automobile supplier Meritor Inc. (MTOR) soared 45% after Cummins Inc. (CMI) said it would buy the company as it seeks to sell more parts for electric trucks.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian President Putin ordered troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, escalating concerns of armed conflict.
  • Oil prices jumped to $96 and U.S. stocks fell. European stocks rose after yesterday's declines when U.S. markets were closed. Russia's MOEX index fell 6%.
  • Meritor Inc. soared 45% after Cummins Inc. said it would buy the company as it seeks to sell more parts for electric trucks.
  • The FHFA released its house price index this morning. The report showed house prices surged 17.5% from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021.

Markets Around the World Respond to Russia—Ukraine

Oil prices were up over 4%, with light sweet crude prices reaching $96 a barrel. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.93% as investors sought the safety of Treasury bonds and has since crept higher. Today's U.S. stock declines follow last week's rout when all the major indexes dropped more than 1.5%. 

European stocks rebounded from yesterday's tumble when U.S. markets were closed. The largest exchange in Russia, the MOEX index, fell 6%. Germany's chancellor, Olaf Scholz, announced the country is halting approval of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline after Russia's actions, while the U.K. and European Union imposed a series of sanctions with more planned.

In Asia, stocks fell with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 2.7% and Japan’s Nikkei falling 1.7%. Chinese technology stocks slumped for the third straight session amid fresh worries about a regulatory crackdown for the sector. Alibaba's stock price fell sharply on a report regulators have begun another round of checks on its fintech business arm. 

Cryptocurrencies also traded lower, with the price of Bitcoin falling 1.5% to less than $38,000.

Today's Market Movers

Shares of Home Depot Inc. (HD) are down more than 8% after the retailer fell short of its earnings estimate.

Macy's Inc. (M) shares are also trading higher after the company beat earnings expectations and said it would not spin off its ecommerce unit.

Shares of publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. (HMHC) are up more than 15% after Veritas Capital announced its plans to acquire the educational publisher. Houghton Mifflin has seen revenue surge over the past two years thanks to the growth of remote learning.

Later this morning, IHS Markit (INFO) will release its manufacturing and services Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMIs) for February. The consensus estimate for the manufacturing index is for a reading of 56, and a reading of 52.2 for the services PMI. That compares to a manufacturing reading of 55.5 in January, and a reading of 51.2 for the January services index. The January services PMI was the lowest reading since July 2020. 

Also today, the Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for February. Economists forecast a reading of 110.8, roughly three points lower than in January.

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Quick Hits: Today's Headlines

SoFi Technologies Inc. (SOFI) will buy Technisys SA for $1.1 billion. The all-stock deal to buy the mobile banking software maker is the latest by SoFi aimed at transforming it into a one-stop financial shop.

Tesla Inc. (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is accusing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of leaking information from a federal probe of the electric vehicle maker. The conflict between Musk and the SEC began in 2018 when the agency accused Musk of making “false and misleading” statements to investors.

Volkswagen AG is in advanced talks with Porsche Automobil Holding SE about a potential IPO of the sports car brand. Porsche is Volkswagen’s largest shareholder; a final decision has not yet been made.

Ford Motor Co. (F) is considering ways to separate its electric-vehicle operation from its legacy business. CEO Jim Farley has considered spinning off Ford's electric operations or its internal combustion engine business, though Ford denied plans to spin off either of the businesses. 

Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman called for “prompt and decisive action” to lower inflation, opening the door to a half a percent interest rate increase at the Fed’s March meeting. Bowman’s comments follow remarks at the end of last week by two senior Fed officials pushing back against the prospect of a large rate increase in March.

Comcast Corp.'s (CMCSA) NBC posted the lowest Olympics ratings ever. TV viewership dropped 42% from the 2018 games, as advertisers were given additional commercial time to make up for the audience shortfall in the Beijing games.

The Big Story: Apple Retail Workers Push for Union

It’s not just Amazon (AMZN) and Starbucks (SBUX) workers hoping to join a union—employees at several Apple (AAPL) stores in the U.S. are also working to unionize.  

Workers at at least six Apple Store locations are reportedly planning to unionize, with at least two stores gathering the support of national unions, and preparing to submit organizing plans to the National Labor Relations Board. 

Apple has more than 270 store locations in the U.S. and employs over 65,000 retail workers. A chief complaint of workers is that hourly wages have stagnated, while Apple’s profit margins have soared. Apple generated over $365 billion in revenue for the last twelve months ending in September, a 33% increase from a year ago. 

Prior to the unionization efforts, the company said it planned to increase retail employees’ pay by between 2% and 10%, and double the number of sick days offered for full-time and part-time employees, as well as increase vacation days and paid parental leave.