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Oil Prices Jump, Stock Futures Fall as Trading Remains Volatile

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U.S. stock futures declined, while oil prices rose sharply, as investors monitored developments surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and awaited fresh inflation figures. 

Futures for the S&P 500 declined 0.7% Thursday, while contracts for the tech-focused Nasdaq-100 fell 0.9% and futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.6% lower. All three indexes broke a four-session losing streak Wednesday, when oil prices declined from recent highs but remained above $100 a barrel for the main U.S. and international gauge. 

On Thursday, futures for Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 5% to $116.65 a barrel. The U.S. equivalent, West Texas Intermediate, added 4.3% to $113.33. 

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.2%, after notching its largest daily percentage gain since March 2020 on Wednesday. The index’s banking sector fell 3% Thursday, as investors worry about the European economy’s exposure to Russia, and many expect that the eurozone’s central bank may hold off on raising interest rates due to the war. 

“Yesterday there was this rally and already you can see profit-taking. There’s very little conviction in this market,” said Agnès Belaisch, chief European strategist at the Barings Investment Institute. 

The European Central Bank will release a statement on its monetary policy and interest rates at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday. It is expected to downgrade its forecast for economic growth and raise its outlook for inflation, which has been fueled by surging energy prices and a decline in the euro against the dollar.

The euro fell 0.4% against the dollar Thursday, to one euro buying $1.1036. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, edged up 0.2%. 

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange.



Photo:

Courtney Crow/Associated Press

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has injected volatility into stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies, as investors try to assess the impact of sanctions and the potential for disruptions to trade and supply chains.

The Russian ruble traded at 119 rubles to the dollar in offshore trading Thursday, having strengthened against the greenback from Wednesday, according to FactSet. Assessing the ruble’s value has grown difficult over the last two weeks, as it has become harder for banks to execute buy and sell orders, following Western sanctions and capital controls imposed by Russia. 

Russia’s stock market has remained closed since Feb. 25.

High oil prices have prompted concerns that the U.S. and Europe could see sustained inflation and lower economic growth, as elevated energy prices eat away at household spending on other goods and services. U.S. consumer-price index data for February will be published at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and economists forecast that inflation climbed further in that month, having reached a four-decade high in January. 

On Thursday, investors bought government bonds seen as safe assets to hold in times of uncertainty, driving prices up and yields down. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 1.932% Thursday, from 1.946% Wednesday. German 10-year bund yields fell to 0.174%, from 0.206% Wednesday.

President Biden’s cryptocurrency executive order may have produced more questions than it’s answered: What’s a central bank digital currency? How is it different from crypto? And why hasn’t the Fed introduced a digital dollar? WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains. Photo composite: David Fang

Bitcoin’s dollar value dropped more than 6% Thursday from its 5 p.m. ET level Wednesday to $39,212.83. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value rallied Wednesday as President Biden announced an executive order to study digital currencies, a move the industry welcomed and skeptics decried as delaying necessary regulation. Bitcoin’s dollar value tends to track broader stock markets, baring industry-specific news to drive it, analysts say. 

Major benchmark stock indexes in Asia jumped. China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1.2%, South Korea’s Kospi jumped 2.2% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 3.9%.

Write to Caitlin Ostroff at caitlin.ostroff@wsj.com

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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