Investors will be keeping a close tab on Ukraine and China this week before turning their attention to the Federal Reserve.
Turmoil in Ukraine over the Crimean referendum could lead to more volatility in the markets.
Preliminary results showed the region voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to join Russia. The situation is causing growing tensions between the West and Moscow. The threat of sanctions and other action from the West against Russia means the crisis could further rattle investors as they worry about potential trade and energy disruptions.
Russia has paid a heavy price for the standoff so far. Its stock market and currency both tumbled since the unrest began. But it’s not clear if Russia will back down.
“The logic now is that Russia is bracing for the next round of sanctions,” said Brown Brothers Harriman analysts in a note Friday.
China could also weigh on market sentiment, as weak reports on the pace of growth in the world’s second biggest economy put pressure on stocks last week. Japan’s Nikkei suffered heavy losses last week, as investors sought safety in Japan’s yen. Japanese stocks typically do better at times when the yen is weak.
Yellen’s first press conference: Investors will focus on the Fed Wednesday. Janet Yellen is presiding over her first policy meeting at the helm of the central bank.