Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down more than 735 points shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday, a decline of 2.2 percent. S&P 500 futures were down 2.3 percent, and futures tied to the Nasdaq composite were down 2.8 percent.
Stock market futures cratered and prices for U.S. and international oil shot up as investors braced for war between Russia and Ukraine to disrupt the global energy supply.
The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate Crude, the baseline for U.S. oil prices, was up $3.40 on the day to $95.52. Intercontinental Exchange Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, reached $100 per barrel.
Government officials, economists and financial experts have warned for weeks that a major war in Europe would likely shake the global economy. While Russia’s economic output is relatively small compared to its geopolitical influence, it produces a significant amount of the world’s supply of oil, natural gas and key minerals.
The escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is certain draw another round of financial penalties from the U.S., European Union and other western allies, likely targeting the Russian energy sector. Prices for gasoline and natural gas are expected to rise even further as both the U.S. and Europe depend more on domestic supply and other friendly sources of energy.
“As I said last week, defending freedom will have costs for us as well and here at home,” President Biden said in a speech on Tuesday, preparing Americans for the potential sticker shock of the conflict.
“We need to be honest about that. But as we do this, I’m going to take robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday a release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve was “certainly on the table.” Tapping the reserve could help reduce some pressure on gasoline and other energy prices.
The economic fallout could also weigh on the stock market, which has fallen steadily throughout 2022 amid rising tensions in Europe.
The Dow closed Wednesday with a loss of 1.4 percent, ending in the red for the fifth consecutive day of trading. The Nasdaq composite closed with a loss of 2.6 percent, and the S&P 500 fell 1.8 percent before the closing bell.
A previous version of this story incorrectly labeled a unit of measurement used to determine the international price of crude oil.