U.S. stock indices fell for a third straight session on Monday with the S&P 500 giving up its yearly gains and the tech heavy Nasdaq saw its biggest three day drop since 2011 with investors weighing concerns about high equity valuations, less monetary stimulus, unrest in eastern Ukraine, and the cold weather impact on lower corporate earnings for the first quarter which begins at the end of the closing bell later today.
The Nasdaq dropped 1.16 percent, the S&P 500 closed 1.08 percent lower, and the Dow slid 1.02 percent.
Treasuries gained for the third straight session on Monday, pushed higher from weakness in stocks while the yield on the 10 yr. Treasury lowered to 2.71 and remains well below the 2.79 level from last month.
Emerging geo-political risks from Ukraine helped to accelerate the selling on Monday after reports from Ukraine indicated that armed pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in three cities in eastern Ukraine and called for a referendum vote to join Russia no later than May 11th.
Ukraine’s new government in Kiev accused Moscow of orchestrating the protests for its own political gain.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney cautioned Russia to not intervene in Ukraine amid concerns that Moscow is attempting to escalate political tension within eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for a future incursion into eastern Ukraine with its sizeable ethnic Russian population.
“If Russia moves into eastern Ukraine, either overtly or covertly, this would be a very serious escalation. We call on President Putin and his government to cease all efforts to destabilise Ukraine and we caution against further military intervention” Carney said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently had a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said he would meet together with Russian, Ukrainian, and EU officials in the next 10 days.
Approximately 40,000 Russian troops are still reportedly conducting military exercises along the Russian-Ukrainian which comes one month after Russian troops seized Crimea in southern Ukraine and Crimeans voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to join the Russian Federation.
Last week Gazprom raised the price of gas 80 percent in Ukraine and Russia canceled a gas credit, making it more difficult for the near bankrupt country to pay its energy bills.
On Monday the Bank of Japan decided to leave their monetary policy unchanged.