By Christine Idzelis and Mark DeCambre
U.S. stocks closed lower Friday, with all three major benchmarks booking a second week of losses, as investors monitored developments between Russia and Ukraine amid fears of a war breaking out.
U.S. markets will be closed on Monday in observance of Presidents Day.
How did stock benchmarks perform?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.53% dropped 232.85 points, or 0.7%, to close at 34,079.18.
S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.03% fell 31.39 points, or 0.7%, to end at 4,348.87, with information technology /zigman2/quotes/210600162/delayed XX:SP500EW.45 +0.83% the worst performer among the index’s 11 sectors.
The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.59% declined 168.65 points, or 1.2%, to finish at 13,548.07. A so-called death cross crystallized in the index, a bearish chart pattern.
For the week, the Dow dropped 1.9%, the S&P 500 fell 1.6% and the Nasdaq declined 1.8%.
On Thursday , the Dow dropped 622.24 points, or 1.8%, to close at 34,312.03, its largest one-day point and percentage drop since Nov. 30. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.03% slumped 94.75 points, or 2.1%, to finish at 4,380.26. The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.59% tumbled 407.38 points, or 2.9%, to finish at 13,716.72. Losses for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were the largest since Feb. 3.
What drove the market?
Renewed fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine added to weekly losses for markets for buyers on Friday.
“Geopolitical headlines surrounding the tensions in Ukraine with Russia and the rest of the world throughout the West clearly have been impacting investor sentiment,” said Kei Sasaki, senior investment portfolio manager at Northern Trust Wealth Management, in a phone interview Friday. Geopolitical events are “very difficult” to predict, he said, with continuing “anxiety” over the potential for a Russian attack on Ukraine.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on the U.S.’s “continued efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy, and Russia’s buildup of military troops on the border of Ukraine,” the White House said Friday. Diplomatic efforts aimed at heading off an invasion remained in focus, with Biden also expected to speak with European leaders.
Concerns about conflict have intensified after U.S. and NATO officials said evidence on the ground showed Russia had increased troop levels near Ukraine’s borders despite Moscow announcing earlier in the week that some units were pulling back, while Biden has said the probability of an attack in coming days remains high.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said late Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would meet late next week, “provided there is no further Russian invasion of Ukraine,” according to news reports .
Blinken said Friday that he is “deeply concerned” that Russia isn’t embarked on the path of diplomacy and that Russia appears to be creating false provocations in Ukraine designed to spark a conflict with Ukraine.
U.S. equity futures had edged up overnight after Lavrov agreed to meet Blinken.
U.S. stocks were undermined for a second week by the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, as well as the prospect of tighter Federal Reserve monetary policy.
Northern Trust’s Sasaki said he’s been looking for buying opportunities amid investors’ knee-jerk reactions to headlines surrounding Ukraine, with a preference for higher quality stocks in developed markets. Geopolitical tensions, so far, haven’t changed his fundamental views on inflation or the prospect for rising rates, which have been core issues for the market, he said.