Stock market news live updates: Stock futures open mixed, indexes head for weekly losses

Stock futures opened mixed Thursday evening as investors mulled another hot print on inflation and prospects of further price increases amid Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

Contracts on the S&P 500 fell, while Dow edged higher. Earlier, the S&P 500 dropped 0.4% for its fifth drop in six sessions and headed for a back-to-back week of losses. 

The Dow and Nasdaq also declined. Crude oil prices fell for a second straight session, with U.S. 

West Texas intermediate crude oil prices settling below $110 per barrel as Brent crude prices also moved lower. Still, gas prices at the pump rose to fresh highs. 

The energy index in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' February Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed another monthly surge in energy prices even before Russia escalated its attacks in Ukraine.

The headline CPI — soaring 7.9% over last year — underscored the sticky inflationary pressures reverberating across the U.S. economy, with everything from groceries to rents and airline fares getting more expensive for everyday consumers. 

 "The inflation fire was already hot and now with war-driven inflation added to the mix, it will grow even hotter, setting off a scramble by the world’s central banks to pull back their stimulus earlier than expected," Chris Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS, wrote in an email. 

"A spike in inflation rates has preceded economic recessions historically and this time prices have soared to levels that once again pose a threat to growth."

"Markets were cheering this economic recovery and return to strong economic growth, but the cheers will turn to tears if the inflation outbreak pushes businesses and consumers to the brink of recession," he added.

And indeed, volatility has been a hallmark of the market environment so far in 2022, with the S&P 500 still down more than 10% for the year-to-date after first sliding into a correction last month. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, has held at a lofty level of more than 30.

"We're seeing really dramatic moves, and it's all really tied to Ukraine right now, and in a secondary way, in terms of interest rates," Octavio Marenzi, CEO of Opimas, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. 

"This war in Ukraine is going to give the Fed the ammunition, the cover that it needs, to not raise interest rates too quickly. 

And I think Jay Powell is a very tepid sort of inflation fighter and he's not going to do as much as he needs to do to get that under control. 

And this seems like an excuse to kick the can further down the road still and not do too much too soon."

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