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Ukraine Tensions Cause Market to Fall

Business Roundup for Monday, March 3.

An unidentified soldier mans a machine gun on a military vehicle outside a Ukrainian military base in Crimea
An unidentified soldier mans a machine gun on a military vehicle outside a Ukrainian military base in Crimea (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling and bond prices are rising as tensions build over Russia’s military presence in the Ukraine. The price of crude oil rose as traders feared that Russian oil exports might be disrupted if Western governments impose sanctions on Moscow. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 153 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 16,168 Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,845. The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Friday. The Nasdaq composite fell 30 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,277. Russia’s benchmark stock index plunged 12 percent. Stocks also fell sharply in Europe. Germany’s DAX fell the most, 3.4 percent. The price of gold rose to a four-month high as traders sought safety.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending showed a tiny increase in January. The Commerce Department says construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in January, as strength in housing helped to offset declines in nonresidential building and government projects.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett sees steady improvement in the economy and remains optimistic about what’s ahead. In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said the reports he gets from Berkshire’s 80-odd subsidiaries in a variety of industries show that the economy is growing at a moderate rate, despite swings in investors’ mood. But, Buffett adds that he doesn’t make investment decisions based on the economy or world events. He said he focuses on the prospects of the business in which he’s investing, and the price.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina regulators have cited five more Duke Energy power plants for lacking required storm water permits. The violation notices come a month after a pipe collapsed at one of the company’s coal ash dumps causing a massive spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Two other violations were issued Friday against the Dan River Steam Station, the site of the Feb. 2 spill.

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup and its affiliate Banamex USA have received grand jury subpoenas concerning compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements under federal laws and banking regulations. Citi says it is cooperating fully with the inquiries. On Friday, Citi announced that it lowered its 2013 earnings by $235 million, saying it was a victim of fraud committed by a Mexican oil services company.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harsh weather doesn’t appear to have crimped consumer spending in January. The Commerce Department says that spending rose 0.4 percent. However, the department also revised its December figure downward, to a tiny 0.1 percent. As for income, that grew 0.3 percent in January following a flat December.

DETROIT (AP) — Frigid temperatures and snowstorms in much of the country have hurt auto sales. General Motors and Ford reported sales declines last month. Ford’s U.S. sales were down 6 percent, while GM’s were off 1 percent. However, the country’s top two automakers both said sales began to recover in the second half of February. Meanwhile, Chrysler and Nissan reported double-digit sales gains for the month.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing activity expanded more quickly last month. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 53.2 in February as companies received more orders and boosted their stockpiles. However, the increase only partly reversed a five-point drop in January from December.

NEW YORK (AP) — Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers are moving a bit closer to a possible combination. The two companies say they are exchanging certain confidential information. The news comes four days after Jos. A. Bank rejected the latest acquisition bid from Men’s Wearhouse. Men’s Wearhouse had boosted its offer to $63.50 per share and said it could go to $65, if some conditions are met.

BEIJING (AP) — International stock markets tumbled today as tension over Russia’s military advance into Ukraine and possible sanctions by Western governments intensified. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose more than $1.50 to move above $104 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

WASHINGTON — There are two government economic reports on tap today. The Commerce Department will release personal income and spending numbers for January as well as construction spending during the month. Also today, the Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for February, and automakers will report on last month’s vehicle sales.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s markets have dropped about 10 percent and its currency has fallen to its lowest point ever against the dollar and the euro because of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine. Russia intervened over the weekend to take control of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula with strategic importance, and the new government in Kiev fears a wider invasion. The West responded by questioning Russia’s membership in the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, and the U.S. threatened possible asset freezes and trade penalties.

TOKYO (AP) — The head of a Tokyo virtual currency exchange that went belly-up says there is a “high probability” that theft is behind the disappearance of 750,000 bitcoins. Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy and says it’s looking into a criminal complaint. Mt. Gox chief Mark Karpeles posted the announcement on the company website today, saying a huge number of transactions must be investigated. a0510


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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