US stocks drop again on Ukraine worries, end lower for the week

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks fell Friday (March 4) as an increasingly grim picture of the Russia invasion of Ukraine took attention away from good US employment data.

All three major indices finished the week with losses, with the broad-based S&P 500 ending at 4,328.87, down 0.8 per cent for the day and 1.3 per cent for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent Friday to finish at 33,614.80, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.7 per cent to 13,313.44.

"What's principally driving the market is this foreboding sense that things are going to get worse before they get better in Ukraine," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

Stocks got off to a bumpy start after a fire broke out late Thursday at Europe's biggest nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia following a Russian attack.

Western officials condemned Russia's conduct, while monitors reported no spike in radiation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the war in Ukraine "may not be over soon" and that the US and European allies must sustain tough pressure on Russia until it ends.

Crude oil prices continued to surge, while US Treasury yields pulled back in a sign investors are shifting to safe haven investments.

US employers added 678,000 workers to their payrolls in February, driving the unemployment rate down to 3.8 per cent in a monthly report that was better than expected.

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"The market is trying to balance the lousy geopolitical situation with the February employment report, which was pretty strong," O'Hare said.

Travel stocks were slammed more than other industrial segments on worries the Ukraine-Russia conflict will dampen demand. United Airlines fell 9.1 per cent, while Booking dropped 5.6 per cent and Marriott International lost 3.7 per cent.

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