The stock markets in the United States fluctuated as investors evaluate the future of the economy and monitored developments regarding the on-going conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ended the trading session today with a 0.07% decline while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 recorded 0.37% and 0.03% gains respectively.

Yesterday, the stock markets dropped primarily driven by sell-offs in commodity stocks particularly in copper and oil companies due to concerns over China’s economy. The country experienced its first onshore default after Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co was not able to pay its interest payment last week.

China is scheduled to release its data on industrial output tomorrow. The country’s exports suffered the biggest decline since 2009, according to recent reports.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Walter Hellwig of BB&T Wealth Management commented, “We saw a pretty healthy sell-off based on China slowdown fears and potential Russian expansion. The concerns of what’s going on are still on the minds of investors and they’re putting money into safe haven assets like U.S. Treasuries and gold. On the other hand, we’re seeing stocks aren’t completely out of the picture.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting Washington to step up its request for financial aid and warned that Russia is massing troops near the border.

Commenting on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Christian Zogg, head of equity and fixed income at LLB Asset Management said, “Investors are keeping an eye on what’s happening with Ukraine and Russia. After the good fourth-quarter earnings season, the positive sentiment is slowly but surely priced in.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,339.95 (-0.07%)
  • S&P 500- 1,868.q8 (+0.03%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,323.33 (+0.37%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,189.68 (+0.22%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,065.46 (-0.88%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,620.90 (-0.97%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,188.69 (-1.28%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 14,830.39 (-2.59%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 21,901.95 (-1.65%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,114.13 (+0.26%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) declined more than 7% to $60.57 per share after the multilevel marketing company revealed that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation against it. The company is confronted with accusations that it is operating a pyramid scheme. Herbalife has repeatedly denied such accusations, and said it “welcomes the inquiry” and it is confident that it is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

The shares of Express, Inc. (NYSE:EXPR) fell more than 12% to $16.05 per share after the company projected that it will deliver earnings in the range of $0.12 to $0.18 per share for the first quarter this year. Express posted lower than expected fourth quarter earnings of $0.57 per share compared with the $0.59 per share estimated by Wall Street analysts.

Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ:URBN) dropped for the third consecutive day. The stock price of the retailer closed at $35.31 per share, a decline of nearly 2% after analysts at Barclays Plc downgraded their rating to Equal Weight from Overweight. The firm expected that extreme weather conditions negatively affected its sales and profit margins for the first quarter.