**__ Diplomatt’s Daily Digest – February 16, 2022__**
Good morning and happy Thursday, everyone! U.S. stock index futures edged lower during morning trading Wednesday, after registering gains the previous day amid signs of tensions easing between Russia and Ukraine. Markets more broadly have been driven largely by concerns over the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the prospect that the Federal Reserve is about to embark on a rate-hiking campaign to tamp down inflation.
In the most recent developments, NATO officials accused Russia of massing troops at the Ukrainian border a day after Moscow said it was pulling back. Energy prices, which have been sensitive to the news, moved sharply higher Wednesday morning, with natural gas up nearly 6% and oil prices climbing more than 1%. This helped boost sentiment Tuesday on Wall Street. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury topped 2% as a risk-on tone returned to the market. Yields were little changed Wednesday, with the benchmark note at 2.04%. U.S. stocks rallied on optimism that it doesn’t seem like Russia will invade Ukraine this week, and despite another hot PPI report, as many on Wall Street are still not convinced the Fed will be as aggressive as some are calling for this year.
Quote of the week: “We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.” -Jimmy Carter
• President Biden said Tuesday afternoon the United States was prepared to defend NATO members as the crisis on Ukraine’s border with Russia intensifies. “Make no mistake, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power. An attack against one NATO country is an attack against all of us.”
• NATO has accused Russia of increasing the number of troops it has amassed at the Ukrainian border a day after Moscow claimed it had begun withdrawing some of its military units.
• Gaming company Roblox shares fell more than 11% in after-hours trading Tuesday after missing fourth-quarter expectations on both the top and bottom lines.
• Oil prices are soaring, and nothing appears to be stopping their ascent. December to January saw international benchmark Brent crude climb by roughly $11 a barrel, and it’s gone up nearly the same amount since the start of February, underpinned by supply concerns, rising inflation, and geopolitical tensions. Brent surpassing $100 a barrel is almost a given at this point, energy analysts say; but now, an increasing number of forecasters predict the commodity surpassing $125 a barrel and even higher.
• Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said it’s “reasonable” to assume that we may be approaching the final stages of the pandemic.
• Airbnb beat Wall Street estimates on earnings and revenue in its fourth quarter, as the travel company continued to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.
• Elon Musk unleashed a torrent of stock sales, options exercises, tax payment sales, and gifted shares last year, totaling nearly $22 billion. Yet even after unloading so much Tesla stock, he still owns a larger share of the company, thanks to his compensation package.
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