While US indices plunged yesterday as the situation near the Ukraine-Russia border remained tense with the S & P 500 dropping 2.12%, Nasdaq falling 2.88% and Dow Jones pulling back 1.78%, reports of shelling in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts in eastern Ukraine continue. However, the US President will host a meeting with leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Romania, UK, EU and NATO today which along with an announced meeting between US secretary Blinken and Russia's Lavrov next week has helped moods stabilize slightly. Oil prices pulled back noticeably with Brent dropping below $90 and gold gave up some gains after benefiting from the significant risk-off moods seen this week which saw it reach the highest level since mid 2021. With a lack of data releases and with a long weekend ahead in the US, we could be seeing significant volatility across markets as investors and traders adjust their positions to limit risk exposure and in anticipation of a potential escalation of the conflict. On the other hand, any sign of easing of tensions has been received positively from markets and further indication could lead to a return of risk appetite across asset classes, which could favor stocks as well as the cryptocurrency market, which have struggled to maintain gains lately.
UK retail sales point to continued post pandemic recovery
Today's retail sales figures continue to provide encouraging signs as the economy recovers from the pandemic and as businesses as well as consumers begin to adjust to rising inflation. While these figures indicated a rise of retail sales volumes by 1.9% in January 2022 following a fall of 4.0% in December 2021, an interesting thing to note is that the proportion of retail sales online fell to 25.3% in January 2022, its lowest level since March 2020 (22.7%). Ultimately, it remains to be seen how the Bank of England's policy will facilitate this trend moving forward in order to avoid a stagnation situation and as rising prices across sectors continue to add pressure.