What to know this week

Choppiness in U.S. stocks is expected to persist this week as investors grapple with the prospect of swifter monetary tightening and escalating geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine. And a new read on retail sales will be released Wednesday giving investors more insights into consumer spending.

Concerns over military action by the Kremlin have created a new headwind for investors, particularly after the White House warned on Friday that a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia could come within days. The statement dealt a fresh blow to markets.

“The Russia-Ukraine tensions have hovered over already shaky investor sentiment,” Comerica Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer John Lynch said in a note. “Investors have been counting on a diplomatic resolution, but recent developments indicate this may be wishful thinking and therefore, not fully priced into the markets.”

The geopolitical tensions add to the uncertainty around central bank policy that has dominated market sentiment in recent months. Friday’s warning by the Biden administration weighed on stocks and sent oil prices soaring to a seven-year high.

“By pushing energy prices even higher, a Russian invasion would likely exacerbate inflation and redouble pressure on the Fed to raise interest rates,” Comerica Bank Chief Economist Bill Adams said in a note. “From the Fed’s perspective, the inflationary effects of a Russian invasion and higher energy prices would likely outweigh the shock’s negative implications for global growth.”

The Fed is already under pressure to act on the fastest increase in prices in 40 years. Wall Street was rattled last week by a highly-anticipated fresh print on the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), which notched a steeper-than-expected 7.5% increase over the year ended January to mark the largest annual jump since 1982. The surge heightened calls for the Federal Reserve to intervene more aggressively than anticipated to

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