Market Wrap: Ukraine-Russia Talks Fail, Inflation Hits 40-Year High

  • Talks between Ukraine and Russia to establish a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors on Thursday made no progress
  • The US core CPI rose 0.8% in February, bringing inflation up 7.8% year-over-year, the highest its been since 1982

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Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers discussed implementing a ceasefire and establishing humanitarian corridors for refugees in a Thursday meeting hosted by Turkey’s foreign minister.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for a 24-hour ceasefire and an open pathway out of Mariupol for civilians. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov did not agree, citing proposals already offered by Russia that called for a demilitarized Ukraine.

“I made a simple proposal to Minister Lavrov: I can call my Ukrainian ministers, authorities, president now and give you 100% assurances on security guarantees for humanitarian corridors,” Kuleba said. “I asked him, ‘Can you do the same?’ and he did not respond.”

The lack of consensus between the two nations added to concerns that a diplomatic ending to the conflict may not be realistic.

Adding to market uncertainty was February’s consumer price index report, which showed inflation is still rising.

The consumer price index increased 0.8% in February, bringing year-over-year inflation up to 7.9%, the highest increase since January of 1982.

US stocks opened sharply lower and, despite climbing throughout the day, ended down. The S&P 500 fell 0.43% and the Nasdaq and Dow stumbled 1.10% and 0.34% respectively.

Crypto markets, which had jumped yesterday, lost most of their gains today as investors sold off. Bitcoin was down by as much as 8% by midday but ended stock trading down just under 5.7%. Ether took a hit as well, falling by 3.91% by the end of stock trading.

Stacks, a layer-1 blockchain aiming to bring decentralized applications (dApps) to bitcoin, was crypto’s biggest gainer of the day among the top 100 coins by market capitalization, with a 21.7% gain.

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Going forward

Bitcoin had a significant drop Thursday but remained above its previous low. The cryptocurrency has now seen a series of higher lows, suggesting it is consolidating and preparing for a larger volatile move up or down. Investors should prepare for next Wednesday’s Fed meeting at which a change to the federal funds rate is likely. While a 25 basis point increase is expected, continuing growth inflation could prompt a steeper increase.

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