Stock market news live updates: Stocks close lower as investors weigh U.S. ban on Russian energy

Wall Street's main benchmarks attempted a comeback into Tuesday's close but turned lower as investors weighed an announcement by President Joe Biden that the U.S. will ban Russian imports of oil and energy, stoking worries the move could raise gas prices further and worsen inflation.

Fears of a recession spurred by concerns over the economic consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine have prompted investors to jettison stocks and stockpile safe-haven assets in recent days.

The S&P 500 shed 0.73% to 4,170.62, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated from a 300-point jump to close 0.57% lower at 32,631.72. 

The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.28% to 12,795.55. The moves extend losses from a sell-off in Monday's session that saw the Dow fall into correction territory and the Nasdaq enter a bear market.

Meanwhile, energy prices have skyrocketed on talks Western nations will upend the use of Russian energy. 

The Biden administration moved forward with its ban on crude oil imports from the country Tuesday without participation of some European allies, acknowledging the countries "may not be in a position to join." The U.K. is also expected to phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022 and consider banning its natural gas.

"Surging oil prices can't singularly trigger a recession and it would take more than sky-high energy prices for the consumer impact to become recessionary," David Bahnsen, Chief Investment Officer of eponymoys firm, The Bahnsen Group, said in a note. "The big question now is what the plans are to replace Russian oil in American and European supply needs and then how effective an embargo may prove to be in de-escalating the military situation in Ukraine."


Russian energy products comprise only 7.9% of total petroleum imports, including crude oil, in the U.S., but European countries rely more heavily on Russian crude oil and natural gas for energy.

“You’re going to see alternative sources of supply from countries that might not have been part of the developed economy before," Interos Inc. 

CEO Jennifer Bisceglie told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday. "You’re seeing China, India, and Latin America stand up and say ‘we can do this too.’”

WTI crude oil futures rose to $124.12 per barrel on Tuesday, while Brent crude oil futures hit $128.38 per barrel. Gold futures remained above $2,000 per ounce after hitting the highest level in 18 months Monday.

"While oil prices could rise above $150 per barrel and well beyond that, the key question for investors is not what price oil could reach, but what price oil could be sustained at," Bahnsen said in his note. 

"The price that oil will settle at will carry the most economic ramifications."

Meanwhile, Nickel trading was suspended on the London Metal Exchange (LME) after its price spiked above $100,000 per metric ton thanks to a short-squeeze on the commodity driven by supply concerns over the Russia-Ukraine war. The LME said it does not expect to restart nickel trading before March 11.

"What we're seeing is the reminder that volatility is a feature of financial markets," Brown Brothers Harriman chief investment strategist Scott Clemons told Yahoo Finance Live. 

"I would be very nervous about energy, not only because of how it’s done, but as a reminder, geopolitical unrest like this can lead to a spike in oil prices — and they can be quite scary — but they can also resolve rather quickly."

“We’re seeing a lot of energy companies that have run away far on the upside anticipating not just elevated prices of the underlying commodity but extended elevated prices," Clemons said.

"That is certainly a possible outcome if this prolongs and disruptions continue, but oil can go right back down as quickly as it went up if there is a quicker resolution to these unrests in Ukraine than markets currently anticipate."


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