Wall Street Slides Over 1 Percent as Russia Attacks Ukraine

By Reuters
February 24, 2022 Updated: February 24, 2022

U.S. stock indexes slid more than 1 percent on Thursday, led by losses in bank stocks, as Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine sparked a widespread selloff in global markets.

On the benchmark S&P 500, all the 11 major sectors slipped into the red, with financial stocks falling 2.9 percent, while tech and consumer discretionary stocks lost more than 1 percent each.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine in a massed assault by land, sea, and air, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

The escalation in conflict rattled financial markets as global shares slumped and oil prices broke above $100 a barrel, while safe havens gold, government bonds, and the dollar surged in the flight to safety.

The United States and its allies promised tough sanctions against Moscow after weeks of fruitless diplomatic efforts and an initial wave of modest sanctions.

Most big lenders, including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slipped over 4 percent each.

Tesla Inc. dropped 2.5 percent to lead losses among the mega-cap growth names. Apple and Amazon.com Inc. fell over 2 percent each.

The CBOE Volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was last trading at 36.81, its highest since Jan. 24.

“Even though the invasion isn’t a total surprise, the stock market is still taking a sell first ask questions later approach,” said Ryan Detrick, Chief Market Strategist at LPL Financial.

“It is just the uncertainty of how serious things could get. Will Europe get involved? Will United States get more involved? We know more serious sanctions are going to come against Russia, but the fallout from that is just uncertain.”

At 10:00 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 646.26 points, or 1.95 percent, at 32,485.50, the S&P 500 was down 62.27 points, or 1.47 percent, at 4,163.23, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 177.33 points, or 1.36 percent, at 12,860.16.

The risk-off sentiment led investors to look past data that showed weekly jobless claims fell slightly more than expected last week, while a separate report confirmed that U.S. economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter.

The Dow was set to confirm a correction from its all-time closing high on Jan. 4 and was currently down about 12 percent below its record closing level.

Oil stocks Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. slipped more than 1 percent even as crude prices remained elevated as the attack exacerbated worries that a war in Europe could disrupt global energy supplies.

Defense stocks Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin Corp. gained over 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent each.

EBay Inc. fell 3.2 percent after it forecast bleak first-quarter results, as the e-commerce platform tackles waning online demand, tough competition, and global supply chain disruptions.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 4.63-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 4.92-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 62 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded six new highs and 924 new lows.

By Susan Mathew and Devik Jain