The U.S. issued more sanctions on Russian individuals and threatened wider sanctions against Russia's energy, financial services, defense and other sectors if Russia escalates the situation in Ukraine any further. Russian stocks sold off on the threats. Russia issued its own round of sanctions against American officials, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. U.S. stocks so far are ignoring the tit-for-tat sanctions, choosing instead to focus on issues closer to home including upbeat economic reports that helped erase the losses in the wake of comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that interest rate hikes could begin sooner than many expected.
One of the stocks we’re watching today is Twitter (TWTR) after Turkey blocked access to the site just days before the country's elections. Turkish citizens have used Twitter to voice opposition to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in the midst of a corruption investigation. Erdogan has vowed to "wipe out" Twitter. The prime minister's office said the country requested certain content be removed from Twitter based on court rulings and when Twitter didn't comply, it shut down the site. A Twitter spokesperson said it was "looking into" the ban and suggested users send tweets via text messages.
Nike (NKE) warned it will see significant headwinds into its fiscal 2015. After the close yesterday, Nike earnings-per-share and revenue for the third quarter came in ahead of Wall Street expectations. But the stock turned south on the company's warning that fourth-quarter revenue growth and 2015 full year earnings will be well below Wall Street targets due in part to a stronger dollar.
Tiffany (TIF) missed earnings estimates and said its outlook for the full year would be well below expectations. Earnings per share missed by $0.05, while revenue rose 5% and came in roughly in-line with expectations. The luxury jeweler's sales improved during the holiday season on strong sales of fine jewelry. The company also took a big charge after losing in arbitration proceeding against Swatch.
In the associated video, Lauren Lyster talks with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task and Breakout host Jeff Macke about the sanctions the U.S. and Russia levied against each other and market reaction to Janet Yellen’s first press conference as Fed Chair.
Macke said the only thing the sanctions have accomplished is to make Putin even more popular at home and to give U.S. and Russian officials the ability to say, "take your sanctions and shove it.”
With regard to the Fed, both Task and Macke agree that the market overreacted to Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s first press conference. Task said that when you look at the timeline, Yellen's “six months” statement about when the Fed would raise rates after the taper is complete is not that much sooner than originally planned. “She really didn’t say anything new or that different,” said Task.
Macke said the Fed was just being “human” and admitting that it will base its decisions on the economic data at a particular time. “This was the Fed being rational,” he said. “If you can’t handle that, then just go write letters to Santa.”