U.S. stocks mostly higher as oil slips, S&P 500 heads for second week of gains

By Barbara Kollmeyer

U.S. stocks opened higher on Friday, as oil prices fell back, with investors balancing their concerns over the ongoing war in Ukraine and rising interest rates against healthy economic growth.

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On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Averagerose nearly 350 points, or 1%, while the S&P 500 gained 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.9%.

What’s driving markets?

The S&P 500 index was heading for a weekly gain of 1.4%, while the Nasdaq was looking at a bigger gain of around 2%, and the Dow was set to eke out a modest rise of 0.1%. Those gains have come against a backdrop of the war in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a month as well as expectations for a more aggressive Federal Reserve.

Friday’s move higher came as oil prices pulled back. President Joe Biden and European officials, who have been meeting this week, on Friday announced new plans to boost shipments U.S. natural gas to Europe, in a bid to ease the continent’s dependence on Russian energy products.

But several European Union countries have resisted pressure for an outright embargo on Russian oil due to their heavy reliance on supplies from the country. On the energy front, oil prices fell 1.7% on Friday, while Brent crude was down 1.4% to $113.71 a barrel.

The Biden administration announced fresh sanctions against Russia on Thursday, with the president suggesting that President Vladimir Putin’s country should be kicked out of the G-20.

“There has not been much positive news to report, and yet the S&P 500 has rallied back 6%, led by the highest beta and most speculative parts of the market. I’m not sure what that tells you other than your typical active investors are probably sidelined,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, in a note to clients.

In addition to the backdrop of war that has exacerbated an energy crisis, investors also are weighing slowing China economic growth and a Federal Reserve determined to stamp out inflation.

“China internet and meme stock baskets are both up 20 %, while profitless tech baskets are up nearly 15 % and 30 % off the lows last week. And when Bitcoin is the best performing macro asset, you know Twitter is in control,” he said.

U.S. data for Friday includes the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment for March and pending home sales for February, both due at 10 a.m. Also investors will hear from New York Fed President John Williams, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin and Fed Gov. Christopher Waller.

Elsewhere, the European Council and European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on a Digital Markets Act, aimed at tech giants such as Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL) and Facebook parent Meta Platforms (FB).

-Barbara Kollmeyer

What companies are in focus?

Other assets


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

03-25-22 0943ET

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