U.S. Halts Russian Flights as War Rages; Fed Sees Rate Hike This Month

Stocks Rise While Oil, Wheat Soar

U.S. stocks are rising after slumping earlier this week as investors digest the potential for rate hikes this month and a Russia–Ukraine war that may last years.

Bond yields jumped as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell released prepared remarks indicating the Fed still aims to raise interest rates at the next FOMC meeting this month. Crude oil passed $112 a barrel, and natural gas gained, on supply concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. stocks are rising after slumping earlier this week as investors digest the potential for rate hikes this month and a Russia/Ukraine war that may last years.
  • European stocks gained as crude oil passes $112 a barrel.
  • President Biden last night announced a halt to Russian flights to the U.S., and Fed officials said they expect a rate hike this month.

Share gains in the U.S. and Europe follow yesterday's sell-off when all major U.S. indexes each lost 1.5% or more. Today the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.7%, down from last month's high of 2.01%, as investors continued to seek the safety of government-backed bonds

Oil's increase comes despite plans to release 60 million barrels from global strategic reserves and OPEC's decision today to continue raising output modestly. Other commodities sensitive to Eastern Europe geopolitics, like wheat and corn, continued rising.

More U.S. companies, including ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), Boeing Co. (BA), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Ford Motor Co. (F) joined the ranks of those restricting or halting business activities in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. 

This morning, payroll provider ADP reported U.S. private payrolls increased by 475,000 jobs in February, far exceeding expectations of 388,000.

adp

Companies reporting their latest financial results include Okta Inc. (OKTA), Snowflake Inc. (SNOW), and Splunk Inc. (SPLK). Dollar Tree Inc. (DLTR) shares fell on its revenue outlook. The Federal Reserve will also issue its Beige Book survey of economic conditions across the country later today.

The euro weakened against the dollar and the ruble continues its plummet.

Quick Hits: Today's Headlines

  • Rivian Automotive Inc. (RIVN) shares fell after it said it's raising electrical vehicle prices by 20% due to inflationary pressures and higher component costs. Its R1T electric pickup trucks has gone up by about 17% and its R1S sport utility vehicles will rise by about 20%.
  • Ford shares surged after it said it will split its electric vehicle and traditional gas autos into separate businesses. The company will also breakout financial results for the new divisions by 2023, as it revised its projections for production and profitability of its electric vehicles.
  • Salesforce.com Inc.'s (CRM) quarterly sales passed $7 billion for the first time, as demand for its cloud-based services increased. The company also raised its sales outlook for the year as it thrives after the pandemic pushed industries and governments to purchase its digital tools and services as they shifted to remote work.
  • Shares of SoFi Technologies Inc. (SOFI) surged after the company reported earnings and raised its forecast for the current year. The digital financial services company reported a quarterly loss that was narrower than analyst estimates. 
  • GM Co. (GM) has sold its stake in embattled electric vehicle maker Lordstown Motors Corp. (RIDE) after the EV company announced plans to sell only 3,000 vehicles through next year. GM owned about 7.5 million shares of Lordstown worth about $75 million.
  • Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) said a cyber attacker leaked employee and company information after a systems breach. Nvidia said it is working to analyze the information that has been leaked and does not anticipate any disruption to the company's business.
  • Slot machine and game developer Scientific Games Corp.'s (SGMS) shares fell after reports that it plans to rebrand itself as Light & Wonder. The change came after Scientific Games shed its lottery and sports-betting businesses to focus on content for casinos and online gambling.

The Big Story: Oil Supply Fears Fuel Surge

Oil prices surged more than 7% today even as governments agreed to release crude oil reserves on concerns about supply disruptions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Light sweet crude is crossing $110 a barrel for the first time since April 2011. 

The U.S. and the International Energy Agency (IEA) agreed to release 60 million barrels from oil stockpiles. The members of the IEA include the U.S., Japan, and many European countries. The amount was lower than original estimates of 70 million barrels, and will include 30 million barrels from the U.S. The release follows the Biden administration’s decision to release 50 million barrels back in November. For context, the U.S. consumes an average of 20.6 million barrels of oil per day.  

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer and responsible for more than 10% of the global supply, according to the EIA. Russian crude oil accounts for just 3% of U.S. crude oil imports, according to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). U.S. lawmakers have been pressing the Biden administration to target those imports, a move the White House has resisted over fears about increasing prices. 

OPEC and its allies met by video conference today and agreed to continue modest output increases. The group, which includes Russia, has been increasing production by a modest 400,000 barrels a day, despite pressure from the U.S. to increase output to bring down oil prices. OPEC delegates have said the release of oil from strategic reserves would not affect its decisions. Saudi Arabia has said the oil market is well supplied, and that the run-up in prices is due to speculation.