scorecardUS futures slip ahead of Biden-Xi talks, while oil stays elevated as Ukraine peace talks appear to stall
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US futures slip ahead of Biden-Xi talks, while oil stays elevated as Ukraine peace talks appear to stall

Harry Robertson   

US futures slip ahead of Biden-Xi talks, while oil stays elevated as Ukraine peace talks appear to stall
Investment3 min read
  • US futures slipped Thursday as Joe Biden and Xi Jinping prepared to talk about the Ukraine conflict.
  • Oil prices remained elevated after rising sharply Thursday as Moscow dismissed reports of progress in peace talks.

US futures slipped Friday after stocks posted three days of solid gains, with US President Joe Biden preparing to talk to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on a call about the Ukraine conflict.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose again after a sharp increase the previous day, with traders struggling to gauge progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

S&P 500 futures were down 0.56%, Dow Jones futures were 0.49% lower and Nasdaq 100 futures had fallen 0.58%.

The slight drop in futures contracts, which suggest stocks will open lower, followed three days of sharp increases for the S&P 500. It was up almost 5% for the week as of Thursday's close, set for its biggest weekly increase since November 2020.

Asian stocks rose overnight but European equities were little changed.

Biden and Xi were set for contentious talks about the Ukraine conflict Friday. The US has warned Beijing may be gearing up to actively support Russia in its war against its neighbor.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday: "President Biden will be speaking to President Xi tomorrow and will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia's aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs."

Oil prices surged Thursday as Russia dismissed claims that peace talks with Ukraine were showing substantial progress.

Brent crude was up 1.15% to $107.87 a barrel Friday, while WTI crude was up 1.25% to $104.27 a barrel. Prices have been on a wild ride, with Brent having started the year at around $79. It shot as high as $139 last week before cooling sharply as reports emerged that a peace agreement could be near.

"With peace talks appearing to falter, and expectations increasing that the devastating war in Ukraine will become entrenched, the oil price has been on the march upwards again," said Susannah Streeter, senior markets analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown.

She said oil prices were "causing a fresh ripple of worry about the effect rising energy prices will have on businesses and consumers."

Europe's continent-wide Stoxx 600 index was little changed Friday. Asian stocks rose slightly overnight, with China's CSI 300 up 0.67%.

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Stocks have fallen sharply in 2022 as the Federal Reserve has prepared to hike interest rates to tame inflation, and as the Ukraine conflict has thrown the global economic rebound into doubt.

Yet investors have found a footing this week after the Fed carried out its first rate hike, of 25 basis points, and suggested there could be six more coming this year. Analysts said investors have taken comfort from the emphasis Fed officials have put on avoiding recession.

The Bank of England on Thursday hiked interest rates for the third meeting in a row. But it tempered its language about the need for future rises, flagging uncertainty about Ukraine.

"Markets are trying to make sense of a hawkish FOMC that announced a dovish rate hike and believes it can tighten aggressively while maintaining growth," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.

"The perpetually bullish gnomes of the equity market marked stocks higher after the US Philly Fed Manufacturing, and official US Industrial and Manufacturing all exceeded forecasts, and initial jobless claims fell."

Analysts also said reports that Russia had sent payments on dollar bonds to avoid defaulting had boosted sentiment.

US bond yields, which move inversely to prices, cooled slightly Thursday but remained sharply higher for the week. The yield on the key 10-year US Treasury note was down 2.5 basis points to 2.151%, but nonetheless traded at around its highest level since 2019.