'Fast Money' Recap: Russia's Threat to Ukraine and the Markets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- How will the markets react to a potential crackdown by Russian forces in Ukraine? Jitters increased in the last hour of trading Friday, creating some uncertainty moving forward. 

On CNBC's "Fast Money" TV show, Steve Grasso, director of institutional sales at Stuart Frankel & Company, said the market's falloff around 2:30 p.m. ET Friday indicated that nobody wants to hold the highs in the market right now.

Brian Kelly, founder of Brian Kelly Capital, said he lightened up on risk in his trading Friday because he simply doesn't know what's going to happen geopolitically over the weekend, whether there's some sort of invasion or oil spike. He sold gold today and didn't buy it back this afternoon.

Kelly asked, "What would you rather own with the market at highs like this? Apple (AAPL) or the market?" He's much rather be in Apple because of events like this than S&P futures.

"I'm shying away from Japan" because of events like this, said Tim Seymour, managing partner at Triogem Asset Management. Asian markets will be trading Sunday night and "we'll get a sense of where they stand," he said. It's one thing to have Ukraine spiraling out of control, "but when you've got Russia on the doorstep and given what they've done with Georgia in the past, the threat of force is not out of the question."

Still, Seymour said, "I do not think Ukraine is going to derail this market. I think it might provide an excuse for traders, and that's not a bad thing."

The most impressive thing of the day was that the S&P declined heading into the end of the day, and then rallied back a bit, said Guy Adami, managing director of stockmonster.com.

International unrest could be a reason to buy bonds, Kelly said. There was a big move in the bond market Friday and could be a safe haven.

The panel broke for President Obama's press briefing. Obama warned Russia against using military force in Ukraine, cautioning that intervention would be "deeply unstabilizing" and that there "would be costs" for any action taken by Russia.

War with Ukraine would be terribly unpopular in Russia, Seymour said. Still, it's important to remember that the American press is clearly biased against Russia, and it's in Vladimir Putin's best interests to protect his interests in Crimea, a semi-autonomous state.

Market Vector Russia ETF Trust (RSX) was down about 2.3% on the day.

Kelly expected more selling pressure as a result of a potential military conflict. If Crimea decides to be autonomous outside of Ukraine, Russia can say that it's merely supporting a state that has made a democratic decision to succeed from Ukraine. On Sunday night, you'll see some serious "risk-off."

People are looking for a sell signal, Grasso said. This could well be the reason to sell at peak's point and lighten up on risk. "I would not start buying stocks right away because you're not going to get the 'all clear' on Monday," he said.

Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) called the panel. He sees what's happening as the first act of a three-act play by Putin to take over Ukraine. Putin will see how the world reacts to this, and will unfold the second and third acts if the initial international response is tepid, Clark said.

Act two would entail Russia pushing further into Ukraine to "protect Russian interests." Act three would be the eventual occupation of key facilities in Kiev and elsewhere by Russian forces in civilian clothes until the threat is subdued and the country is handed back to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Adami was surprised to see the Barclays 20+ Year T-Bond (TLT) was at $108.50 at the market close Friday given the strength in the S&P. There's a huge disconnect between the broader market and the bond market. The bond market is probably right.

For their final trades, Seymour wants to see how Asia is trading Sunday night and if anything is going to bounce Monday on this news. Kelly says to watch the Swiss franc, especially if it goes down to $120.

Grasso says if we're lucky enough to get a market bounce out of this, you sell that bounce. Adami will be watching precious metals to see if gold gets a bounce, too.

-- Written by Chris Sahl in Boston.

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