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Stock Market Today - 3/8: Stocks End Lower, US Bans Russian Oil, Gold Tops $2,000

Gold, oil and raw materials prices continue to climb as the U.S. weighed sanctions on Russia energy exports and the war in Ukraine enters its 13th day.

Updated at 4:15 pm EST

Stocks finished lower Tuesday, losing steam late in the session, as investors remained focused on the surge in global crude prices and the broader commodity complex, as global markets continue to count the costs from Russia' invasion of Ukraine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 184.7 points, or 0.56%, to 32,632 while the S&P 500, which is down 11.75% for the year and fresh off its worst single-day decline in 17 months, lost 0.72%.

The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.28% as 10-year Treasury note yields rose to 1.852%.

Stocks pared earlier gains following a White House move to ban the import of Russian energy products, including coal, oil and natural gas, following last week's invasion of Ukraine. 

"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy," President Biden told reporters in Washington. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable in U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war machine."  

As fighting enters its 13th day in the war-torn region, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees said Tuesday that more than 2 million people have been displaced, with the government establishing its first formal evacuation route from the eastern city of Sumy.

Russian forces have, however, reportedly suffered severe losses in the fighting, including two senior army generals, as soldiers continue to advance towards the Ukrainian capital.

Oil prices continued their overnight climb after Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned that Russia could cut off gas supplies to western Europe if leaders join a U.S.-lead boycott of Russia energy exports.

WTI crude futures for April delivery were marked $4.62 higher at $124 per barrel following the Bloomberg report, while Brent contracts for May surged $5.08 to $128.30 per barrel during early New York trading.

At the pumps, the average cost for a gallon of gas hit an all-time high of $4.104 yesterday, according to the consumer website, topping the $4.103 level set during the peak of the global financial crisis in 2008. 

Gold prices topped $2,000 an ounce in overnight trading, testing the highest levels in more than two years, as investors continue to drive cash into safe-haven assets as Russia troops advance their march on Kyiv. 

Gold gained 2.62% from Monday's close to trade at $2,050.98 per ounce. Gold's all-time high of $2,067.15 was printed in August 2020.

In U.S. markets, where the CBOE's VIX volatility gauge remains stuck near the highest levels in more than a year, investors are looking to support stocks following last night's slump into correction territory for the Dow and the S&P 500, as well as the confirmed bear market close for the tech-focused Nasdaq.

Commodity-focused stocks such as industrial equipment maker Caterpillar  (CAT) - Get Free Report advanced, rising 6.8%, while Exxon Mobil  (XOM) - Get Free Report added nearly 1% and Chevron  (CVX) - Get Free Report rose 5.4%.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report shares finished up 2.5% after official data showed solid gains for the carmaker's February sales in China, the world's largest EV market, although that failed to offset a surge in nickel prices that could impact production in the months ahead.

The China Passenger Car Association said Tuesday that Tesla sold 56,515 domestically-made vehicles last month, including 33,315 for export from its most important market. The headline tally was more than double the pace of sales recorded last year, but down around 5.6% from January levels.

In overseas markets, Europe's Stoxx 600 rebounded from yesterday's slump, which saw the German DAX fall into correction territory, with a 0.8% gain for the regional benchmark.

Overnight in Asia, however, stocks were weaker, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closing 1.71% lower at a 16-month low of 24,790.95 points and the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan benchmark falling 1.34% by the end of the session.