The stock markets in the United States fluctuated as investors reacted to the latest developments concerning Russia’s moves on Ukraine, as well as a jobs report from the Department of Labor today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P ended the trading session this week with a slight gain of 0.18% and 0.05%, respectively. The Nasdaq dropped by 0.37%.

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Today, Russia stated that Ukraine must pay off its $2 billion debt and it is also planning to cut its natural gas supplies for its neighbor. Its statement alleviated investors’ concern that the conflict between the two countries will escalate, which could affect the global economy. Ukraine is losing control of Crimea after pro-Russian forces took over control of the peninsula. The United States and its allies asked Russia to remove its forces, and started preparing sanctions against Russians. Ukraine is a primary transit nation for energy supplies for the east and west.

On the other hand, the United States Department of Labor reported that the economy added 175,000 jobs in February, higher than the 149,000 estimated by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank commented, “The more we can add jobs and get the economy to organically grow through traditional measures is a wonderful thing and equity markets are reacting to this as we expected. We want this economy to stand on its own two feet. We want this to be a self-sustaining growth engine.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,451.95 (+0.18%)
  • S&P 500- 1,877.90 (+0.05%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,336.22 (-0.37%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,201.79 (-0.23%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,095.31 (-1.57%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,712.67 (-1.12%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,350.75 (+2.01%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,274.07 (+0.92%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22,660.49 (-0.19%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,168.36 (-0.24%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Safeway Inc (NYSE:SWY) dropped 2.20% to $38.60 per share after the company announced its agreement to sell itself to Cerberus Capital Management for approximately $9 billion. According to Zacks Equity Research, the decline reflects the sentiment of some investors that they are not happy with the acquisition price.

The shares of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) declined 2.36% to $18.65 per share after the company revealed that Casablanca turned down its board seats offer in order to prevent a proxy fight. Casablanca Capital is demanding the company to reduce costs and spin off its Bloom Lake Project. The investment management firm owns a 5.2% stake in the company.

Biogen Idec Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB) fell 3.50% to $328.75 per share despite the upgrade of the rating for the stock to Outperform by BMO Capital Markets.  The research firm also raised its price target for the stock to $422 based on its detailed pipeline review on the company.

“Opportunities in myotonic dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, SPMS, IPF, and in remyelination could each be even larger, and we believe that strong biologic rationale and some degree of scientific validation exists for each program. While it is difficult to predict 100% pipeline success, we believe that [Biogen Idec] has established a strong track record for pipeline development and believe that more programs will succeed than fail,” wrote BMO analyst Jim Birchenough in a note to investors.