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Market Snapshot: Stocks end mixed Monday, Dow posts biggest monthly drop since November as Russia-Ukraine talks end with no deal

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The Nasdaq Composite Index eked out a slight gain on Monday, but stocks ended the session lower and booked another month of declines, as talks between Russia and Ukraine ended without an agreement.

Markets also digested the latest sanctions against Moscow after President Vladimir Putin raised Russia’s nuclear alert level on Sunday in an intensifying attack against Ukraine.

What did indexes do?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.49%

finished 166.15 points, or 0.5%, lower at 33,892.60. Dow industrials were down 1,239.26 points, or 3.5%, in February for the largest one-month point and percentage decline since November.

The S&P 500
SPX,
-0.24%

closed down by 10.71 points, or 0.2%, at 4,373.94.  It’s down by 141.61 points, or 3.1%, this month.

The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+0.41%

finished higher by 56.77 points, or 0.4%, at 13,751.40. It’s down by 488.48 points, or 3.4%, in February and has fallen more than 12% in the last two months. That’s the largest two-month percentage decline since March 2020.

What drove markets?

Markets were unsettled again on Monday as efforts to forge a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine ended without a deal, though negotiators made some progress. Meanwhile, Russia intensified its attack with a shelling that killed at least 10 civilians.

As Ukrainian forces continued to put up stiff resistance to Russian invaders, the Central Bank of Russia hiked its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% and halted stock market trading.

Western nations continued to hammer Russia with sanctions. And the U.S. and its allies agreed over the weekend to exclude selected Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank messaging system, effectively cutting them off from the global financial network. Some experts speculated about runs on Russian banks as the value of the ruble sank against the U.S. dollar
USDRUB,
-0.47%
.

Oil prices continued to rise, with Brent crude
BRNJ22,
+3.24%
,
the global benchmark, breaching the $100-a-barrel mark. European stocks slumped on Monday.

“The market is struggling to find a path to optimism, but I think ultimately it will fail,” said Phillip Toews, chief executive and lead portfolio manager of Toews Asset Management. “We’re on the path toward a broader bear market,” he said via phone Monday.

Meanwhile, BlackRock Investment Institute’s Wei Li and others said that “we are tactically upgrading equities as we see greater clarity on Ukraine conflict and reduced risk of central banks slamming the brakes to curb inflation.”

“We believe market expectations of rate increases have become excessive and have created opportunities in equities,” they wrote in a note. “We downgrade credit, preferring to take risk in equities.”

In economic reports, the U.S. trade deficit jumped 7.1% in January to $107.6 billion and hit a new all-time high for the second month in a row. Meanwhile, a February reading of a Chicago-area purchasing managers index dropped to 56.3 from 65.2.

Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said he isn’t ruling out a half-percentage point rate increase by the Fed at its March 15-16 policy meeting, due to inflationary pressures, according to Reuters. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before a House committee on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.

Which companies were in focus?

Shares of First Horizon
FHN,
+28.66%

were in focus after Toronto-Dominion Bank
TD,
-2.11%

said it was acquiring the U.S. bank for $13.4 billion. First Horizon shares were up 29%.

Shares of Teladoc Health Inc. TDOC rose 5.7% after the provider of tele-healthcare services said it has teamed up with Amazon.com Inc. Alexa on voice-activated virtual care services. Amazon.com shares fell 1.7%.

How did other assets fare?

The 10-year benchmark Treasury note yield BX:TMUBMUSD10Y fell 14.8 basis points Monday to 1.836%. That’s its largest one-day decline since Nov. 26, based on 3 p.m. levels, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Treasury yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The U.S. dollar was up 0.1%, as gauged by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY.

April WTI oil
CLJ22,
+4.62%

climbed $4.13, or 4.5%, to settle at $95.72 a barrel.

Gold futures ended the month around 5.8% higher. The April gold contract
GCJ22,
+1.22%

gained $13.10, or 0.7%, to settle at $1,900.70 an ounce.

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP closed down by 0.1%, while London’s FTSE 100 UKX finished lower by 0.4%.

In Asia, the Hang Seng HSI in Hong Kong finished 0.2% lower. China’s Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP closed 0.3% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index NIK finished up by 0.2%.

— Mike Murphy contributed to this article.

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