After the liquidation, the markets are closely watching developments in Ukraine


Stock markets were jittery on Friday as worries about a Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine continue to weigh on sentiment.

The S&P 500 edged higher in early trading, after falling more than 2% on Thursday. Oil prices have continued to fall from their recent highs. Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, fell 2.1% to $91.01 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate futures fell below $90 a barrel.

The U.S. government said Friday that Russia had likely amassed up to 190,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, according to a statement from the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The number of troops increases the estimate of Moscow’s troop buildup. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.4%.

Major indexes in Europe jumped earlier in the day after reports that US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had accepted a proposal to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov late in next week, a sign that a diplomatic solution to the impasse may still be possible.

Asian stock indices ended the day mixed. In China, the Shanghai Composite closed up 0.7% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.4%.

“Blinken’s scheduled meeting with Lavrov next week has relieved the situation for now,” London-based strategists at Japanese bank Mizuho wrote in a note to clients.

Trading in recent days has been volatile, particularly in oil markets, where prices have risen to levels not seen since 2014. Russia is a major oil producer and Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas, and an invasion of Ukraine would almost certainly push already expensive energy prices higher.

But speculation has swirled that a new US-Iranian nuclear deal is nearing completion, which could revive Iranian oil production and ease pressure on oil prices.

Yields on 10-year US Treasuries fell early Friday to 1.94% from 1.96%. The yield fell to 1.96% on Thursday as stocks sold off, bucking the recent trend that saw yields climb above 2% as investors try to discern how fast Reserve policymakers will raise their benchmark rate to help curb inflation.

On Thursday evening, Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said she thought it would be appropriate to raise rates at the Fed meeting in March and in the months following.

“If by the middle of the year, I estimate that inflation will not moderate as expected”, Ms Mester said in a speech“then I would support housing removal at a faster pace in the second half of the year.”

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