The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was up 220 points, to 16,388, at 1:30 p.m. EST as tensions appear to have moderated in Ukraine. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) was up 26 points to 1,872. Brent crude was down $1.98 to $109.22.
All 30 stocks in the Dow Jones are on the upswing as the cooling tensions in Ukraine let the market continue its rise. Perhaps given the international uproar and the weakening of the Russian ruble, President Vladimir Putin said today his nation is not invading Ukraine, but is just protecting Russians in Crimea, as well as its military assets there. The Crimea region of Ukraine is ethnically 58% Russian as it was given by the Soviet Union to the then-Soviet republic in 1954. Crimea, specifically the city of Sevastopol, is home to the Russian Black Sea fleet.
Putin has left open the possibility of action in Ukraine, saying that Russia will protect Russian-speaking citizens in the former Soviet state. Putin has also said of the change in government in Kiev: "It was an unconstitutional coup and an armed seizure of power that took place. No one argues with that."
The Russian Micex Index was up 5% on the news, though is still down 8% since the weekend. The ruble strengthened 1.3% against the dollar but has not made up the ground lost in yesterday's 2% drop. Russian majors Sberbank, Gazprom, and Yandex are all up today, though hey are still well below the weekend's level after yesterday's drops of more than 10%.
It will be interesting to track the fallout from this episode. The Russian central bank yesterday hiked short-term lending rates 1.5% and bought $10 billion in currency to try and moderate the flood of money out of Russia. While the markets are temporarily bouncing back I expect they will continue to fall as foreign investors realize the political risk they are taking investing in Russia.
What's an investor to do?
I hope that cooler minds will prevail and that the tensions in Ukraine will de-escalate. Until then, who knows where the stock market will go. The stock market has looked overvalued for some time, leading me to suggest it's a good time to build up some cash so you are able to invest when opportunities arise.
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