U.S. stock futures bounced back from overnight lows Tuesday morning but remained below the flatline to start the holiday-shortened week as investors continued to monitor tensions between Russia and Ukraine and await the Kremlin’s next move.
Futures on all three major indexes traded just below breakeven as of 7:15 a.m. ET ahead of Tuesday’s open. Contracts on the S&P 500 were mostly flat, down 0.28% to 4,331.50, while futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked slightly lower by 0.32% to 33,899. Nasdaq futures fell 0.74% to 13,893.
Wall Street was closed for trading on Monday in observance of Presidents Day, but investors will return from the long weekend to a series of new developments on the geopolitical front that are likely to extend the recent pressure on stocks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the deployment of Russian troops into two breakaway pro-Moscow regions in eastern Ukraine after announcing Monday evening he would recognize their independence.
The move was seen by the West as a provocation and intensified worries a war was underway. Just last week, the Biden administration warned that recognizing the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine would defy international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and “necessitate a swift and firm response” from America and its allies.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday imposing sanctions that target the two Russia-backed separatist regions, specifically prohibiting “new investment, trade and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in” the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also set to unveil a “significant” package of sanctions on Russia Tuesday morning, Sky News reported.
“There are three different buckets of economic impact of what’s ongoing right now between Russia and Ukraine,” Douglas Rediker, founder of the policy and markets advisory firm Capital Strategies and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Yahoo Finance Live. “The first is the direct impact of a potential Russian invasion and the disruption of commerce and economic activity on the back of that invasion, the second is sanctions, and the third is if we do put on sanctions what the retaliatory measures might be that Russia might impose on the U.S. and Europe.”
The conflict creates an added headwind for markets already holding its breath in anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s next move as it looks to tighten monetary conditions to mitigate surging inflationary pressures. A war between Russia and Ukraine could exacerbate inflation and spur other economic disruptions.
Robert Schein, chief investment officer of Blanke Schein Wealth Management, argued while the markets have been sensitive to headline risk from Russia-Ukraine tensions, central bank policies remain the most critical concern for investors right now.
“We believe the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is overstated, as war invasions are not typically telegraphed in advance and there is usually an element of surprise, which is clearly not the case with Russia-Ukraine,” Schein said in a note. “Federal Reserve policy remains the market’s biggest risk and investors are hoping that the Fed can engineer a soft landing, which would involve tightening policy just enough to calm rising inflation.”
“The market is in ‘wait and see mode,’ as investors brace for the Federal Reserve’s next move,” he added.
8:28 a.m. ET: UK unveils ‘first barrage’ of economic sanctions against Russia
The U.K. has imposed targeted economic sanctions on five Russian banks and three high net-worth individuals following a move by President Vladimir Putin to send troops into eastern Ukraine on Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the “first tranche” of sanctions are aimed at Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank when addressing lawmakers in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The three “very high net worth” individuals also targeted were Russian billionaires Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg, who will be banned from traveling to the country and see U.K. assets frozen as part of the measure.
“This is the first tranche, the first barrage, of what we are prepared to do,” Johnson said. “We will hold further sanctions at readiness, to be deployed alongside the United States and the European Union if the situation escalates still further.”
8:15 a.m. ET: Macy’s stock jumps after earnings beat, rejection of turnaround plans
Macy’s Inc. (M) reported fourth-quarter results that surpassed analyst forecasts on earnings and sales, appearing unscathed from supply-chain snafus thanks to its strategy to stock up in advance.
Shares of the retailer surged more than 7% ahead of open to trade at $27.50 a piece as of 8:10 a.m. ET.
Even as some retail peers grappled with coronavirus disruptions including Omicron-driven labor shortages, supply chain issues, and inflationary pressures, Macy’s owned stores open for at least saw same-store sales jump 28.3% in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 29
The company also decided against a push by activist investor Jana Partners to separate its digital business following a strategic review by consulting firm AlixPartners.
“We are more confident in our path forward as one integrated company,” Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said.
8:00 a.m. ET: Home Depot notches better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit
Home Depot Inc. (HD) reported fourth quarter sales before open Tuesday morning that beat sales and profit estimates, lifted by strong demand for its tools, paint and building materials during the holiday season.
The home-improvement retailer saw shares rise as much as 1.2% in pre-market trading. Shares traded slightly lower at $344.23 a piece as of 7:53 a.m.
The company’s overall net sales rose 10.7% to $35.72 billion in the fourth quarter. Same-store sales at Home Depot rose 8.1% in the same period.
Sales at Home Depot surged more than $40 billion in the last two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic amid an increase in do-it-yourself home projects.
Despite supply chain constraints and fears an easing of pandemic restrictions and return to in-person activities could result in less spending on home improvement, Home Depot botched more than $150 billion in annual sales for the first time ever in the year ended January 2022.
7:05 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures point to a lower open
Here’s how Wall Street’s main benchmarks fared in pre-market trading Tuesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -12.00 points (-0.28%), to 4,331.50
Dow futures (YM=F): -108.00 points (-0.32%), to 33,899.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -103.25 points (-0.74%) to 13,892.75
Crude (CL=F): +$3.34 (+3.67%) to $94.41 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$2.60 (-0.14%) to $1,897.20 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.00 bps to yield 1.932%
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc