Dow Closes Sharply Lower Amid Rising Ukraine Conflict

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. markets closed sharply lower Monday as risk aversion spread across global markets amid rising conflict in the Ukraine.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.94% to 16,168.03 while the S&P 500 shed 0.74% to 1,845.73. The Nasdaq was 0.72% lower at 4,277.30.
  • Conflict in the Ukraine kept global markets on edge as Russian military forces took control of the Crimean peninsula overnight. The FTSE 100 in London finished down 1.50%, the DAX in Germany was off 3.44%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng finished down 1.47%, and the Nikkei 225 in Japan slid 1.27%.
  • "There are a lot of unknowns surrounding the implications of military action and more practically the political and trade sanctions the UN and others may bring to bear," Ian Lyngen, a bond strategist at CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Conn., said in a note. He added that the global energy complex is currently at greatest risk in this current environment.
  • Weak Chinese manufacturing data didn't help the mood, with the final Markit/HSBC manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index falling to a seven-month low of 48.5 in February.
  • Domestically the outlook remains positive: at 57.1 in February, up from 53.7 in January, the final seasonally adjusted Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index signaled the strongest improvement in business conditions for 45 months, Markit Economics reported. Economists were expecting a reading of 56.6.
  • U.S. personal income rose 0.3% in January and spending increased 0.4%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Economists were looking for increases of 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.
  • Spending for U.S. construction projects rose 0.1% in January to an annual rate of $943.1 billion, led by private projects. Expectations had been for a 0.4% decrease.
  • Automakers, including General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Toyota (TM) announced U.S. sales declines in February amid bitter winter weather. But they said sales began to recover in the second half of the month. Their shares fell as much as 1.44%.
  • In stock news, Visa (V), Microsoft (MSFT) and 3M (MMM) were among the biggest laggards in the Dow, all down at least 1.2%. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) finished 0.59% higher after announcing record earnings of $19.5 billion in 2013. Book value per share increased 18.2% vs. the S&P 500's 32.4% climb. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB) closed 0.37% higher as Men's Wearhouse (MW) confirmed that it entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Jos. A. Bank under which the companies have agreed to exchange certain confidential information and to work in good faith to evaluate a potential combination. Men's Wearhouse has received a draft merger agreement from Jos. A. Bank.
  • Despite Monday's downbeat tone, S&P Capital IQ's New York-based chief equity strategist, Sam Stovall, noted in a report that this bull market is poised to enter its sixth year on Monday, March 10. And should this bull market celebrate its sixth birthday and perform similarly to prior sixth-year bulls, it could go up another 26% to beyond 2340.

--By Jane Searle and Andrea Tse in New York

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