WALL STREET CLOSURE
by Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange closed the first quarter on a negative note, closing lower on Thursday and the S&P-500 posting its biggest quarterly decline in two years amid growing war concerns. in Ukraine and its inflationary impact on prices.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.56%, or 550.46 points, to 34,678.35 points.
The broader S&P-500 lost 72.04 points, or 1.57%, to 4,530.41 points.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 221.76 points (1.54%) to 14,220.52 points.
While optimism for a breakthrough in Moscow-kyiv peace talks helped boost Wall Street’s main indices earlier this week, hopes of a diplomatic outcome quickly faded, with the Russian military continuing its bombing raids on the north of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin’s remarks on Thursday did not help: the Russian president announced that Moscow will require from this Friday that buyers from “unfriendly” foreign countries pay in rubles for natural gas deliveries.
The United States imposed new sanctions against Russia during the day, while US President Joe Biden decided to tap into the country’s oil reserves in an unprecedented way in a bid to allay fears of shortages and rising prices.
Wall Street is especially sensitive to the latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which have had the effect of accentuating the already galloping inflation in the United States, where the prices of fuels and metals have soared since the beginning of the Russian offensive. on February 24.
Given this rise in inflation, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is increasingly expected to adopt a more aggressive monetary policy, with measures that could weigh on economic growth.
Data released during the day showed that US consumer prices barely rose in February as pressures intensified.
Investors are now awaiting the release of US labor market data on Friday, looking for signs to anticipate the contours of the Fed’s next move.
All sectors of the S&P-500 finished in the red. Up sharply since the start of the year, energy fell on Joe Biden’s announcement and OPEC+’s decision to maintain current production levels.
In decline at the beginning of the year due in particular to fears of inflation, the main Wall Street indices rebounded in March, despite the war in Ukraine: in the month, the S&P-500 rose 3.6%, the Dow Jones 2.3% and the Nasdaq 3.4%.
However, during the quarter, all three fell, with the S&P-500 posting its biggest quarterly drop (4.9%) since the beginning of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus health crisis in the United States. The Dow Jones fell 4.6% during the period and the Nasdaq fell 9.1%.
(French version Jean Terzian)