5 things to know before the stock market opens on Thursday 24 February

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Wall Street plummets after Russia invades Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to repel an attack in the Ukrainian region of Lugansk on February 24, 2022.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Global markets plunged on Thursday after Russia launched an early morning invasion of Ukraine. Dow and S&P 500 futures fell more than 2% each. Nasdaq futures fell almost 3%. Losses of this magnitude at the open would put the Nasdaq in a bear market, as defined by declines of 20% or more from recent highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average joined the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq in correction territory on Wednesday. The Dow and Nasdaq recorded their fifth straight session of losses. The S&P 500 has seen its losing streak extend to four consecutive sessions. Investors sought the perceived safety of bonds, pushing prices higher and yields lower on Thursday. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.86%.

2. Oil prices top $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014

U.S. and international crude oil prices climbed more than 8% on Thursday, both topping $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Shares of U.S. oil companies including Chevron and Exxon Mobil were among the beneficiaries of the pre-market exchanges. The reason for the spike in energy prices: Russia is a major global producer of oil and natural gas, which jumped 6% on Thursday.

Any long-term spike in energy prices could exacerbate soaring US inflation and complicate the Federal Reserve’s path to multiple interest rate hikes this year. On the one hand, central bankers need to weigh the possibility of even stronger price pressures – which could argue for more aggressive hikes – against a hit to the economy and markets – which could argue for of a more gradual tightening.

3. Gold Jumps to Year-Long Highs; bitcoin falls to lowest level in a month

Gold jumped more than 3% on Thursday to over $1,970 an ounce, the highest prices in more than a year. Like bonds, gold is considered a safe haven in times of geopolitical turmoil. Bitcoin, seen in crypto circles as a store of value like gold, plunged about 7% on Thursday to hit a one-month low of around $35,100.

The world’s largest digital currency has been trading more like a tech stock recently, now down around 50% from all-time highs of around $69,000 in early November. Over $150 billion has been wiped from the entire crypto market in the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

4. Biden to address the nation as Russia advances on Ukraine by air and land

Russia’s wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday included airstrikes on cities and bases, as well as ground movements. The Ukrainian government said Russian tanks and troops had crossed the border and accused Moscow of starting a “full-scale war”. Russian President Vladimir Putin said overnight that the purpose of the “special military operation” in Ukraine was “demilitarization”.

US President Joe Biden is expected to address the nation on Thursday afternoon. Prior to the attack, the United States and other Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia. A second wave of economically punitive measures is widely expected. NATO “will further strengthen its presence in the eastern part of the alliance” in the days and weeks to come, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

5. Moderna plans to sell $19 billion worth of Covid vaccine this year

Moderna’s Covid vaccine is prepared for administration at Union Station in Los Angeles on January 7, 2022.

Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

Moderna said Thursday it expects to sell at least $19 billion of its Covid vaccine this year, after reporting quarterly results that blew analysts’ earnings and revenue estimates. Shares of the company fell about 5% as part of the broader premarket sale. Moderna is conducting a clinical trial for a booster shot specifically targeting the omicron variant. However, it is unclear whether there will be a strong demand for such a vaccine, as new infections with the variant have fallen sharply in the United States and other parts of the world.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Register now for the CNBC Investing Club to follow Jim Cramer’s every stock move. Follow the evolution of the market like a pro on CNBC Pro.

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