By DAMIAN J. TROISE – AP Business Writer
Shares alternated between small gains and losses in Wall Street afternoon trading on Friday, as investors ended a bumpy week with greater uncertainty about where to go next.
The S&P 500 Index was down 0.1% at 12:26 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18 points, or 0.1%, to 34,726 and the Nasdaq fell 0.8%.
Major indices alternated between gains and losses throughout the week as markets try to figure out what’s next for inflation and the global economy as the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to play out. The benchmark S&P 500, along with the tech-heavy Nasdaq, remains on track for a weekly gain.
Bond yields rose significantly. The yield on the 10-year government bond rose to 2.47% from 2.34% late Thursday. This helped banks, which depend on higher yields, to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. Bank of America rose 1.5%.
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Technology stocks fell, curbing gains elsewhere in the market. Big tech companies have inflated values that tend to lend more weight when trying to push the broader market up or down. Chipmaker Nvidia fell 2%.
Crude oil prices gained ground after slipping previously. The price of US crude rose 0.8% and Brent crude, the international standard, rose 1%. Prices are still up about 50% for the year globally.
Oil prices have been volatile since Russia’s war against Ukraine began in February. Russia is the second largest crude oil exporter. Energy prices were already high, but the conflict has raised concerns about worsening supply shortages, which could exacerbate persistently rising inflation.
The US and Europe on Friday announced a partnership to reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy, hoping to further isolate Moscow over its aggression. Russia has threatened to make Europe pay in rubles for natural gas exports, the value of which has fallen as a result of sanctions and other measures. The Russian economy was battered when governments cut it off from international banking and trade.
The conflict in Russia has heightened global concerns about rising inflation and the potential for an even worse-than-anticipated slowdown in economic growth. A poll on Friday showed that business confidence in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, fell sharply in March due to the conflict in Ukraine.
Central banks, including the Federal Reserve, are moving to raise interest rates to try to mitigate the effects of rising inflation, which has only been exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The conflict is also driving up prices for wheat and other commodities, as both Russia and Ukraine are major global suppliers.
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