US stocks head for fifth straight loss

Concerns over Ukraine have pushed Wall Street lower, with the Dow on track for losing ground every day this week.

Tensions regarding Ukraine have not eased despite US Secretary of State John Kerry meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks in London today. Mr Kerry said Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday,’ but Mr Lavrov told reporters that Russia will respect the outcome when the people of Crimea vote on whether to join the Russian Federation.

Despite today’s surprise drop in the mid-March measure of consumer sentiment, economic data has been relatively benign this week, supporting arguments that the US economy is robust enough when it comes to domestic affairs, in spite of some weather-related setbacks, but the real concern for investors is whether international events will deliver a blow that sends the market reeling.

With under half an hour to the closing bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones was down 0.16% or 25 points, while the S&P 500 lost the same percentage, falling to 1843.3. Given that we are heading into a possibly volatile situation this weekend with the Crimean vote, I think this modest decline is not a bad result.

Barring something drastic happening with Russia, the focus of the stock market may switch back to purely domestic US economic concerns by the middle of next week with the FOMC meeting announcement on Wednesday.

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