Home > Stocks fall sharply as fears around Ukraine nuclear plant weigh on investors

Stocks fall sharply as fears around Ukraine nuclear plant weigh on investors

  • Wall Street opened sharply lower on Friday to see the stock market extend its losses over the week into a fourth straight session.

  • After ending the Thursday session lower, the Dow Jones Industrial opened in the red to mirror declines across Asian and European markets.

  • The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also sank despite an earlier US jobs report that turned out slightly better than expected.

Data out Friday showed that February jobs grew by 678,000, beating forecasts of 440,000. The US unemployment rate also fell, coming in at 3.8% for its lowest figures since February 2020.

In Europe, the benchmark European index Stoxx 600 closed 3.3% lower, while France’s CAC fell 4.9% and Germany’s DAX shed 4.4%.

UK’s FTSE 100 fell 3.5% and Russia’s MOEX remained closed for the fifth day.

Ukraine war remains a huge concern for investors

As with the European shares, US indices fell on uncertainty around the Ukraine war. On Friday, investors were likely more vexed with news that Russian forces had seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

In early trades Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 460 points, or -1.4%. The S&P 500 was also falling at -1.6% on its opening, while the Nasdaq composite had shed 2.3% to lead the sell-off.

The declines across Wall Street have pushed the major indices’ weekly losses above 1% across the board, with this set to be the fourth week in a row that stocks are closing negative.

Flight into safe havens boosts gold

Elsewhere in the markets, energy prices continue to edge towards fresh highs as sanctions against Russia grow tougher. A ban on Russian oil and gas exports could add to the pressure to push energy prices through the roof.

On Friday, the West Texas Intermediate crude rose more than 2% to $110 per barrel. The international benchmark Brent crude edged higher 2.3% to above $112 per barrel.

Treasury yields eased off as traders looked to safe-haven options, sending gold higher. Amid the risk-off sentiment, the precious metal bounced to $1,965.7 per ounce, while silver and copper were also up. The market outlook also saw wheat prices jump.

In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin was down 4% as it retested support at $40k after a brief rally in the week to highs near $45k.

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