Market Coverage – Friday March 11 Yahoo Finance

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Stocks closed in the red Friday as investors weighed upbeat remarks from Russian President Vladimir Putin about diplomatic discussions with Ukraine against a weaker-than-expected print on U.S. consumer sentiment.

The S&P 500 fell 1.3% to 4,204.36, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.7% to 32,943.33. The Dow posted a fifth straight weekly loss — its longest losing streak since 2019. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 2.2% to 12,843.81. Though all three indexes opened in the green, stocks took a turn after a new report showed U.S. consumer sentiment deteriorated more than expected in early March as consumers’ inflation expectations soared to the highest since 1981.

Crude oil prices edged higher after tumbling on Thursday, when U.S. West Texas intermediate slid back below $110 per barrel after topping as much as $130 a barrel in recent sessions. Still, gas prices at the pump rose to fresh highs.

Apparently upbeat developments in Russia’s discussions with Ukraine helped at least temporarily send investors back into risk assets. Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko that there were “certain positive developments” occurring in the talks with Ukraine, according to a transcript of their meeting. Putin added that discussions were happening “almost on a daily basis.”

The news also helped traders look past another report showing decades-high inflation and shake off some of the volatility from recent sessions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February Consumer Price Index (CPI) this week showed another surge in prices even before Russia escalated its attacks in Ukraine. The headline CPI — soaring 7.9% over last year — underscored the sticky inflationary pressures reverberating across the U.S. economy, with everything from groceries to rents and airline fares getting more expensive for everyday consumers.

“The inflation fire was already hot and now with war-driven inflation added to the mix, it will grow even hotter, setting off a scramble by the world’s central banks to pull back their stimulus earlier than expected,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS, wrote in an email. “A spike in inflation rates has preceded economic recessions historically and this time prices have soared to levels that once again pose a threat to growth.”

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