Stock futures are little changed as Russia-Ukraine tensions and Fed rate hike worries simmer

on Feb14
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Traders on the floor of the NYSE, Feb. 4, 2022.

Source: NYSE

U.S. stock futures were flat on Monday night, as traders kept an eye on simmering tensions between Russia and Ukraine while weighing the potential impact of tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped just 4 points, or about 0.1%.. S&P 500 futures rose 0.1% along with Nasdaq 100 futures.

Wall Street is coming off a volatile trading session.

The Dow closed lower by 171.89 points, or 0.5%, after falling more than 400 points at one point. The S&P 500 dropped as much as 1.2% before ending the day 0.4% lower. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.9% at one point before closing just below the flatline.

Oil, meanwhile, popped to its highest level since September 2014 on Monday, while gold futures reached levels not seen since Nov. 16.

Those moves came as the Russia-Ukraine conflict appeared to escalate. Secretary of State Antony Blinken ordered the closing of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, citing a “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces” on Ukraine’s border.

“Investors are on edge with geopolitical tensions high and crude oil flirting with $100 a barrel, but after the wild ride on Friday, today’s flattish day really feels like a win,” LPL Financial chief market strategist Ryan Detrick said.

Concerns over multiple Fed rate hikes also kept investors on edge.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told CNBC’s Steve Liesman on Monday that the central bank needs to be aggressive in fighting inflation. The consumer price index rose last month at its fastest year-over-year pace since 1982, leading Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to increase their rate hike outlook for 2022 seven.

“I do think we need to front-load more of our planned removal of accommodation than we would have previously. We’ve been surprised to the upside on inflation. This is a lot of inflation,” Bullard said.

“Our credibility is on the line here and we do have to react to the data,” he added. “However, I do think we can do it in a way that’s organized and not disruptive to markets.”

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LPL’s Detrick said that, while investors should be concerned about inflationary pressures and tighter U.S. monetary policy, the market’s fundamental backdrop remains strong.

“Yes, Fed hikes are coming, inflation is out of control, and geopolitical tensions are high, yet let’s not forget that we are about to wrap up another extremely solid earnings season,” he said. “There are a lot of worries out there, but to see really strong earnings last quarter, along with companies overall quite optimistic about our economy’s future, this is something that should give investors hope.”

More than 70% of S&P 500 companies have posted their latest quarterly results, with 77% of those names beating analyst expectations, according to FactSet. Earnings for those companies have grown by about 30% on a year-over-year basis.

—CNBC’s Maggie Fitzgerald contributed to this report.

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