By Joy Wiltermuth and Mark DeCambre
U.S. stock indexes tumbled Monday, with the Dow industrials entering correction and the Nasdaq Composite Index finishing in bear-market territory, as investors weighed the further financial isolation of Moscow and implications of a possible U.S. ban on oil imports out of Russia, which could exacerbate inflationary pressures.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -2.24% fell 797.42 points, or 2.4%, to close at 32,817.38, ending in correction territory for the first time since 2020.
The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -2.04% dropped 127.78 points, or 3%, finishing at 4,201.09.
Last week, the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 each fell 1.3%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.8%. Meanwhile, the S&P GSCI /zigman2/quotes/210598561/delayed XX:SPGSCI -5.13% index, which tracked 24 exchange-traded futures contracts across five physical commodities sectors, saw its biggest weekly surge in more than 50 years.
What drove markets
Markets carved out fresh 2022 lows on Monday, with losses mounting in consumer discretionary, /zigman2/quotes/210600228/delayed XX:SP500.25 -0.86% communication services /zigman2/quotes/210600403/delayed XX:SP500.50 -0.83% , and financials /zigman2/quotes/210600060/delayed XX:SP400.40 -2.46% , falling more than 3%.
One of the few bright spots in the market was the energy sector, even as the White House said it hasn’t decided yet on a ban of energy imports out of Russia, as it looks to further punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Germany on Monday rejected a plan for a more coordinated embargo with western allies, saying it will continue to buy natural gas, oil and coal from Russia, because it has grown too dependent on energy imports.
“What is taking place right now is unprecedented,” said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capitol Securities Management, in a phone call. “You have the U.S. administration still mulling an idea to ban oil exports from Russia, even through Germany said it’s not going to do that,” he said, while also pointing to a host of private-sector companies from Netflix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -0.86% , to Visa Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203660239/composite V -1.60% to American Express /zigman2/quotes/203805826/composite AXP -2.54% that have vowed to suspend operations in Russia.
Russian troops continued hostilities on Monday as cease-fire attempts failed and an estimated 1.7 million refugees poured into neighboring countries. Ukraine on Monday rejected Moscow’s offer to let its civilians cross into Russia and Belarus. Grain prices also were surging, with wheat /zigman2/quotes/210389638/delayed W00 -3.07% futures jumping 7% and continuing a march toward all-time highs as the war shuts down exports from the Black Sea region, a crucial global breadbasket. U.S. oil futures settled at $119.40 a barrel, the highest in more than 13 years.
“The galloping commodity prices will naturally put downward pressure on the economy and increase operational volatility for many companies already struggling with inflationary pressures,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank.
In U.S. economic data, the amount of credit consumers used in January grew by a scant $6.8 billion, the smallest increase in a year, signaling that households sharply reduced borrowing early in 2022.
A key inflation report, the consumer-price index, is due on Thursday, with investors already fretting about the higher costs of goods and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.