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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Wall St skids on inflation jitters as oil prices surge

Wall Street’s main indexes fell sharply on Monday, weighed down by declines in megacap growth names and financial shares, as the prospect of a ban on oil imports from Russia sent crude prices soaring and fueled concerns about rising inflation.

Oil prices jumped to their highest levels since 2008 as the United States and European allies considered banning Russian oil imports, in response to the country’s conflict with Ukraine, while it looked less likely that Iranian crude would return swiftly to global markets. Energy shares, the standout S&P 500 group so far this year, was one of the only sectors logging a gain on Monday.[O/R]

“That concern on oil has led to concerns on higher inflation and potential for stagflation,” said Mona Mahajan, senior investment strategist at Edward Jones. “I think there is just a broader concern that there may be a hit to growth from the consumer given higher prices at the pump.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 607.54 points, or 1.81%, to 33,007.26, the S&P 500 lost 91.59 points, or 2.12%, to 4,237.28 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 307.53 points, or 2.31%, to 13,005.91.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple were among the top individual drags on the S&P 500 while the financials sector fell about 3%. The utilities sector, one of the defensive areas of the stock market, gained 1.2%.

Ukrainian officials said a bread factory had been hit by a Russian air strike as the country’s negotiators assembled for talks with Russian officials after previous rounds that brought no respite in the conflict.

Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc dropped 11.6% and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell 9% amid a broad downswing in travel and leisure stocks as the jump in oil prices threatened to disrupt a nascent recovery.

Stocks have struggled to start 2022 as concerns about the Russia-Ukraine crisis have deepened a sell-off initially fueled by worries over higher bond yields as the Federal Reserve is expected to tighten monetary policy this year to fight inflation.

Investors are waiting for a U.S. consumer prices report on Thursday, with the Fed widely expected to hike rates later this month to combat surging inflation.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.17-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 50 new 52-week highs and 58 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 57 new highs and 468 new lows.

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