Stock Market Today: Downed Jet in Ukraine, Escalating Conflict Rattle U.S. Markets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- News of a downed Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine unnerved U.S. markets on Wednesday, sending benchmark indices sliding into the close. According to Ukraine's Interior Ministry, the crash was caused by a missile, though pro-Russian separatists have not claimed responsibility. The flight was reportedly carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew. The development is the latest in an escalating conflict along the Ukrainian border, allegedly exacerbated by Russian interference.

Markets were already lower, though much less so, after a new round of sanctions against Russia from the Obama administration were announced, including restrictions placed on Rosneft, the largest oil company in the world, and Novatek, the second-largest gas producer in Russia. Russian bank Gazprombank, subject to the sanctions, is seeking a $1 billion loan from an international consortium of banks to refinance a $1.2 billion loan maturing in September. 

Major U.S. banks were falling with the broader market selloff. Bank of America (BAC) closed down 2% to $15.20, Citigroup  (C) 1.3% to $49.18, Goldman Sachs  (GS) 0.19% to $170.14, and JPMorgan  (JPM) 1.5% to $57.86. Morgan Stanley  (MS) more than doubled its quarterly net income to 94 cents a share from 41 cents a share a year earlier. Shares of Morgan Stanley were down 0.62% to $32.30.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.94% to 16,976.81, gapping from its record close of 17,1382.2 a day earlier. The S&P 500 slid 1.2% to 1,958.12, while the Nasdaq fell 1.4% to 4,363.45.

Gold prices have spiked as investors seek alternate markets to equities suffering from the turmoil and sanctions. Gold futures for August delivery were up 1.3% to $1,316.20 an ounce, while the Gold Miners ETF  (GDX) and SPDR Gold Trust  (GLD) spiked 2.7% to $26.99 and 1.7% to $127.07, respectively.

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