Worries about the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to drive volatility in U.S. equity markets this week, with the VIX, or “fear index,” jumping on wild swings in prices.
Commodity prices surged on supply disruptions, with oil prices hitting an over decade-long high, and wheat prices setting a new record. Meanwhile, the value of Russia’s ruble against the U.S. dollar tumbled to record lows on expanded sanctions, and credit rating agencies downgraded Russia’s credit to “junk” as the risk that the country might not be able to repay sovereign debts rises.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers this week that he would support a 25-basis-point rate hike at Fed policymakers’ next meeting later this month, a lower rate than investors feared, but cautioned that the central bank would continue to monitor developments in Ukraine and be prepared to raise rates faster if necessary.
Next week, we’ll find out whether consumer inflation continued to rise in the U.S. last month. We’ll also get more detail on the state of the U.S. labor market with the Labor Department’s job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS), and the latest read on how consumers are feeling from the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.