Market Wrap: Ukraine-Russia Talks Fail, Inflation Hits 40-Year High

Talks between Russia and Ukraine ended in a stalemate, leaving investors with little hope for a diplomatic end to the conflict


Blockworks exclusive art by Axel Rangel


key takeaways

  • Talks between Ukraine and Russia to establish a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors on Thursday made no progress
  • The US core CPI rose 0.8% in February, bringing inflation up 7.8% year-over-year, the highest its been since 1982

Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers discussed implementing a ceasefire and establishing humanitarian corridors for refugees in a Thursday meeting hosted by Turkey’s foreign minister.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for a 24-hour ceasefire and an open pathway out of Mariupol for civilians. Russia’s Sergei Lavrov did not agree, citing proposals already offered by Russia that called for a demilitarized Ukraine.

“I made a simple proposal to Minister Lavrov: I can call my Ukrainian ministers, authorities, president now and give you 100% assurances on security guarantees for humanitarian corridors,” Kuleba said. “I asked him, ‘Can you do the same?’ and he did not respond.”

The lack of consensus between the two nations added to concerns that a diplomatic ending to the conflict may not be realistic.

Adding to market uncertainty was February’s consumer price index report, which showed inflation is still rising.

The consumer price index increased 0.8% in February, bringing year-over-year inflation up to 7.9%, the highest increase since January of 1982.

US stocks opened sharply lower and, despite climbing throughout the day, ended down. The S&P 500 fell 0.43% and the Nasdaq and Dow stumbled 1.10% and 0.34% respectively.

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Crypto markets, which had jumped yesterday, lost most of their gains today as investors sold off. Bitcoin was down by as much as 8% by midday but ended stock trading down just under 5.7%. Ether took a hit as well, falling by 3.91% by the end of stock trading.

Stacks, a layer-1 blockchain aiming to bring decentralized applications (dApps) to bitcoin, was crypto’s biggest gainer of the day among the top 100 coins by market capitalization, with a 21.7% gain.

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Top stories

Story: Will Biden’s Executive Order Speed Up Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval?

  • Interagency research may alleviate SEC crypto concerns around fraud and manipulation, WisdomTree’s chief legal officer said
  • The executive order does not affect the SEC’s stance in the short term, according to Global X’s director of research

Story: Hack VC Hikes Fundraising Stakes, Targets $500M for New Crypto Venture Fund

  • The firm has been courting institutional players, including pension funds and endowments, as limited partners
  • Hack VC is looking to hire as the firm scales its assets under management

Story: Ethereum Scaling Startup Reportedly Triples Valuation in 4 Months

  • “Since StarkNet was launched, interest from devs and investors has gone through the roof,” an anonymous company source told Blockworks
  • In an interview with Blockworks in November 2021, one of the four co-founders said that they “didn’t need the money” from its Series C, but the funds helped them grow their operations even faster

Story: Small Crypto Miners Are Fixating on Dwindling Towns and Dilapidated Buildings

  • Plan C Crypto, a California crypto mining firm, recently picked Fayetteville, North Carolina for its East Coast headquarters
  • “In the mining world, the turnaround that happens in communities when a large mining farm is deployed there can change lives,” Mason Jappa, CEO of Blockware Solutions, told Blockworks

Going forward

Bitcoin had a significant drop Thursday but remained above its previous low. The cryptocurrency has now seen a series of higher lows, suggesting it is consolidating and preparing for a larger volatile move up or down. Investors should prepare for next Wednesday’s Fed meeting at which a change to the federal funds rate is likely. While a 25 basis point increase is expected, continuing growth inflation could prompt a steeper increase.

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