US slaps Russia with soft sanctions
President Biden’s sanctions on Russia were about as harsh as my disciplining my daughter when she gives me puppy dog eyes. US stocks tentatively rebounded as some cash-strapped investors could not pass up buying the S&P 500 at a 10% discount and on the soft start of sanctions against Russia. It is hardly far from a de-escalation of tensions, but many traders thought the sanctions against Russia were going to be hard-hitting and send a message to Moscow. Instead of going after a major piece, President Biden’s first round of sanctions looked more like they captured ‘poison pawn’ as the sanctions targeted Russian sovereign debt, a couple of banks and a few key individuals.
Equities started to give up gains after reports that the US believes Russia will invade Ukraine in 48 hours. Ukraine was also hit with another DDOS attack, impacting several government and bank websites. Last week, Ukraine was hit with its largest cyberattack in history.
Traders tried to rationalize a reason for the morning rally; a less aggressive first move by Fed, no immediate escalation with the Ukraine situation, and time to ‘buy the dip’, but in the end they could not shake off the growing risk of a Russia-Ukraine war.
Stocks are going to struggle to find direction until financial markets have a clear answer on whether the Russia-Ukraine crisis will have a diplomatic solution or regional warfare.
Following Home Depot’s earnings results, the bar was set low for Lowes and they delivered. Home Depot shares got crushed despite strong results as investors began to worry that the gross margins will struggle going forward. Lowes delivered strong earnings and raised its outlook as the company seems confident they can expand operating margin. Lowes is starting to look like the preferred home-improvement stock for some investors who view them as having bigger upside potential with going after pro customers.
Bitcoin is holding up nicely given the intensifying Russia-Ukraine crisis. Many crypto investors have been humbled by the last crash and while they will remain patient and will wait for their existing positions to turn positive, they are hesitant to increase holdings given the tremendous uncertainty for risky assets.
Bitcoin will likely see decent resistance from the USD 40,000 level as geopolitical tensions will prevent risky assets from mustering up much of a rally.
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