A roundup of Friday’s stock market results from across the region
🗽 On Wall Street:
U.S. stock markets closed higher again on Friday after the Ukraine-Russia crisis and economic data released during the day reduced investors’ bets that the Federal Reserve will make a drastic decision at its next meeting.
The Nasdaq Composite (CCMPDL) rose 1.64%, while the S&P 500 gained 2.24%. The same trend was seen in the Dow Jones Industrials, which closed up 2.51%.
“Wall Street anticipated the reluctance of central banks to be too aggressive with monetary policy tightening, so they could serve as a cushion against developments between Russia and Ukraine,” said Edward Moya, an analyst at Oanda.
On top of this, optimism received a boost after news that U.S. consumer spending advanced more than expected in February, despite inflation and the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
In addition, risk appetite also returned as on Friday morning there were signs of a possible dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv. Despite that, the Russian army continued to advance towards the Ukrainian capital, while Western allies unveiled new sanctions against the Kremlin.
🔑 The Day’s Key Data:
Oil prices fell from the highs they reached on Thursday, after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Brent reference soared and surpassed the $100 barrier, a mark that had not happened for seven years.
The pullback in prices came after the U.S. State Department said it will not sanction Russian crude, because that would hurt U.S. consumers and not the Russian president.
“It seems like the U.S. and its allies want to inflict pain on Russia, but they don’t want to impede its ability to deliver energy products to the world,” Bart Melek, chief commodities strategist at TD Securities, told Bloomberg.
In the world of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin (XBT) rebounded after Thursday’s plunge in which it dipped below $35,000. At 15:37 New York time, the digital token was up 1.6% at $38,915.02.
🏅 The Leader:
The Peruvian stock market had the best performance among its Latin American peers, after the world’s main markets rebounded from the losses they closed with after the Kremlin’s advance on Ukraine.
The S&P BVL/Peru (SPBLPGPT) closed with a gain of 2.93%. The financial and materials sectors were among the best performers on the day.
The Mexican stock market also closed with gains, following the performance of U.S. stocks, and the S&P BMV/IPC (MEXBOL) gained 2.14%.
Brazil’s Ibovespa (IBOV), the largest stock market index by market capitalization in Latin America, closed up 1.39%. The day, however, was one of caution in the Brazilian market, given that the stock exchange will be closed on Monday and Tuesday due to the Carnival holiday.
📉 A Bad Day:
Argentina’s Merval index (MERVAL) had another day with the region’s worst performance, after marking its second worst setback so far this year on Thursday.
Argentina’s main stock market index fell 0.85%, impacted by the crisis in Eastern Europe. Local traders are beginning to weigh the effect of the crisis on their economies.
For example, Argentina must import gas to guarantee supply in the winter, which, with these prices, will impact even more on the deficit by having to allocate more subsidies to the sector.
“Argentine stocks did not follow the U.S. market and suffered generalized declines. Among the main fallers was Loma Negra (LOMA) with a drop of 8.68%, followed by Edenor (EDN) with a drop of 7%”, said Noelia Bisso, an analyst at Rava Bursátil.
🍝 For the Dinner Table Debate:
Economic sanctions against Russia and companies operating there have been a common denominator throughout the week. The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have been the countries carrying out this type of actions against banks, companies and billionaires the most.
Now they have an additional target: Russian President Vladimir Putin. There are estimates that place the president’s fortune between $70 billion and U200 billion, according to some people who have been in Putin’s close circle.
Stanislav Belkovsky, a critic of the Russian president, said that as of 2012 Putin’s fortune was as high as $70 billion, based on his close circle and his holdings in oil and gas companies such as Gazprom and Surgutneftegas, according to statements to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
But surely one of the statements that caused the most stir at the time was that of financier Bill Browder before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, when he specified that he believed the Russian was one of the richest men in the world and his assets amounted to $200 billion.