U.S. stocks declined on Monday morning as officials from Ukraine and Russia gathered to discuss a potential end to the hostilities between the two sides and the U.S. and its allies increased retaliatory sanctions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 500 points or about 1.2%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 dropped 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.8%.
The moves on the last day of February come amid turmoil over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have held key cities including the capital of Kyiv. At the same time, Ukrainian officials arrived near the border for talks with Russian officials.
U.S. stocks and interesting details
In U.S. trading, defense stocks like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin gained about 2%. However, bank stocks were under pressure, with JPMorgan falling 2.8%. As in the case of defense stocks, cybersecurity stocks also reached good results, with Crowdstrike jumping 6%.
Currency markets were a major area of volatility on the last of the month. Russia’s central bank more than doubled its key interest rate, to 20% from 9.5% in reaction to a currency move that saw the Russian rouble decline nearly 16% against the U.S. dollar. The Russian currency hit a record low against the U.S. dollar on Monday morning.
Last week, Western countries decided to remove key Russian banks from the interbank messaging system, Swift.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained more than 5% to around $96.30 per barrel on Monday. The April Brent crude futures contract also advanced nearly 5% to $102.75 per barrel, while natural gas futures rose 4% to $2.84.
Oil stocks were mixed in spite of the rise in commodities prices. Solar energy stocks rose, with Enphase Energy rising roughly 5%, as the conflict in Ukraine made some policymakers more worried about the reliance on fossil fuels.