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Monday Morning Business Brief

March 3, 2014, 5:34 AM

Monday Morning Business Brief

Investors are hoping March is a solid month for the stock market. A strong February wiped out the S&P 500's January loss. The index gained 4.3 percent. On Friday, the S&P 500 rose five points to 1,859. It was the second all-time closing high for the S&P in a row. The Dow climbed 49 points on Friday to close at 16,321. But the Nasdaq lost 11 points to end the day at 4,308. Futures point to losses this morning.

  • International stock markets tumbled today as tension over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and possible sanctions by Western governments intensified. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose more than $1.50 to move above $104 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
  • There are two government economic reports on tap today. The Commerce Department will release personal income and spending numbers for January as well as construction spending during the month.  Also today, the Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for February, and automakers will report on last month's vehicle sales.
  • Russia's markets have dropped about 10 percent and its currency has fallen to its lowest point ever against the dollar and the euro because of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine. Russia intervened over the weekend to take control of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula with strategic importance, and the new government in Kiev fears a wider invasion. The West responded by questioning Russia's membership in the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, and the U.S. threatened possible asset freezes and trade penalties.
  • The head of a Tokyo virtual currency exchange that went belly-up says there is a "high probability" that theft is behind the disappearance of 750,000 bitcoins. Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy and says it's looking into a criminal complaint. Mt. Gox chief Mark Karpeles posted the announcement on the company website today, saying a huge number of transactions must be investigated. a0510

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