The S&P 500 struggled for direction on Friday at the end of a week roiled by geopolitical tensions and inflation angst, with shares of Meta Platforms slipping after Russia opened a criminal case against the Facebook parent.
Markets pared early opening gains after Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were “certain positive shifts” in talks with Ukraine. However, he provided no details.
Meta shares fell 2.6% as Russia moved to designate it as an “extremist organisation” after the social network changed its hate speech rules to allow users to call for violence against Russians in the context of the war with Ukraine.
Apple Inc slipped 0.7% to weigh the most on all the three major indexes.
“It certainly shows the extent to which the market is hanging on hope or expectation, that there will be a resolution,” said Albert Brenner, director of investment and economic research at People’s United Advisors in West Hartford, Connecticut.
“We’re going to continue to see highly elevated volatility until we get some resolution in Ukraine. When things resolved, we’re going to find ourselves back in the late stages of an economic cycle, we think that can continue and so are overweight equities.”
The Kremlin said the conflict in Ukraine would end when the West takes Moscow’s concerns seriously at a time when Russian forces bearing down on Kyiv are regrouping northwest of the Ukrainian capital, satellite pictures showed.
Shares of Berkshire Hathway Inc and Cisco Corp rose 1.2% and 1.7% to help offset some of the losses from shares of Meta Platforms on the S&P 500 index.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with financials and industrials leading the gains.
Energy shares slipped 0.3% but were set for their third straight weekly gain on soaring crude prices. Oil scaled as much as $139 a barrel earlier this week on supply fears due Western sanctions on Russian oil and oil products.
But the surge has fed into fears of higher inflation and slowing economic growth when global central banks are seeking to tighten their pandemic-era monetary policies.
A survey showed on Friday that US consumer sentiment fell more than expected in early March as gasoline prices soared to a record high in the aftermath of the crisis in Ukraine.
This comes after data on Thursday that US consumer prices surged in February to a four-decade high, cementing the case for a key interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve at its policy meeting on March 15-16.
All the major indexes are tracking a weekly decline, with the blue-chip Dow eyeing its fifth straight weekly loss.
At 10:22 am the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91.28 points, or 0.28% , to 33,265.35, the S&P 500 lost 3.11 points, or 0.07 %, to 4,256.41 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 69.38 points, or 0.53 %, to 13,060.58.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq declining issues outnumbered advancers by about a 1.2-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and one new low while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 146 new lows.