US futures edge lower as atrocities in Ukraine raise the chances of more sanctions on Russia, while inflation concerns persist
stockfutures fell on Tuesday ahead of comments from Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard later in the day.
- Reports of crimes against civilians in Ukraine added pressure on Western leaders to sanction Russia.
Global shares dipped on Tuesday, under pressure from concern about persistent
S&P 500 futures were down 0.02% and Nasdaq 100 futures were flat, while Dow Jones futures dropped 0.01%, suggesting a very muted start to trade later on. The technology sector, led by a 27% jump in Twitter after Elon Musk unveiled a majority stake in the company, posted a 2% gain on Monday.
Investors could get fresh insight into the Federal Reserve's outlook for the economy and interest rates when Vice Chair Lael Brainaird speaks later in the day, and again on Wednesday with the release of the minutes of the central bank's latest policy meeting.
"A handful of Fed policymakers are due to speak today, with market participants set to continue paying close attention to their remarks, as the chances of a 50-basis point hike next month continue to oscillate. Remarks from incoming Vice Chair Brainard are the most interesting, due early afternoon," Michael Brown, head of market insights at Caxton, wrote.
A raft of business activity surveys are to be released on Tuesday, including a measure of US service sector activity, which is expected to have expanded in March, although rising prices likely tempered some growth.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine reports of civilian killings by Russian troops retreating from Bucha, outside Kyiv, on Monday could be the catalyst for further sanctions from the US and its EU partners, analysts said.
"Reports of Russian atrocities in formerly occupied Ukrainian territories have beckoned a renewed call for sanctions among western allies. Crucially, the prospect of Russia's energy sector falling within the sanction crosshairs is becoming a more realistic possibility, which drove crude oil futures +3.01% higher to $107.53 a barrel to start this week after their worst week in nearly two years," Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.
The EU's head of foreign policy Josep Borrell said the bloc would look to push ahead with further sanctions on Russia as a matter of urgency. French President Emmanuel Macron echoed Borrell's remarks.
"What happened in Bucha demands a new round of sanctions", before noting that the EU will discuss expanding sanctions to Russian energy exports," Macron said on Monday.
Oil prices rose, lifted by the prospect of further pressure on global supply if Russia's exports fall under sanctions. Brent crude futures rose 0.4% on Tuesday to $108.00 a barrel, having risen to a session high of $109.90, while West Texas Intermediate gained 0.6% to trade around $103.88 a barrel.
Elsewhere, Asian stocks rose to highs last seen in February, with the MSCI Asia Pacific index up 0.18% to $2,978.67 on Tuesday. Chinese stock
Finally, cryptocurrencies remained relatively flat despite Monday's news that the UK would be embrace stablecoins for payments. Bitcoin was up 1.4% at $46,570, while ethereum, rose 1.2% to trade at $3,515.
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