Wall Street closed its worst quarter in two years, as concerns persist over the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has led to rising fuel prices and intensified inflation.
U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday, despite posting a 3.6% gain in March, leading to the worst quarterly performance since the first quarter of 2020, when the pandemic broke out, according to Reuters.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 550.46 points on Thursday. Meanwhile, for the quarter, both the Dow and the S&P 500 each fell nearly 5%, while the Nasdaq plunged nearly 9%.
The market has been very sensitive to geopolitical instability, price fluctuations and uncertainty over how aggressively the Federal Reserve will raise its interest rates to combat inflation, all of which have combined to keep a lid on stocks.
Oil prices declined after President Joe Biden ordered the release of up to one million barrels per day of crude oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to reduce gasoline prices and fight inflation.
Meanwhile, the hopeful prospect of a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, which lifted stocks on Wall Streer earlier in the week, fell apart after Thursday’s announcements by Vladimir Putin about suspending contracts that supply Europe with a third of its gas if not paid for in rubles, raising tensions with the West.
“Investors will look toward Friday’s jobs report for more confirmation of labor market,” Reuters said, which will define the possible direction of the central bank’s monetary policy, and thus the direction markets take.