In a meeting with Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko, Putin added talks continued "practically on a daily basis". These comments come as Russian forces edge closer to Kyiv. The only concessions made by Russia so far are the creation of evacuation corridors and promises to make the country's nuclear plants safe.

The recovery is fragile and investors are cautiously following the evolution of the situation in Ukraine and the continuing rise in prices.

Thursday's session ended lower, but with no exceptional gaps: the Dow Jones gave back 0.34%, the S&P500 a little more than 0.4% and the Nasdaq 1.1%.

While the war is ravaging Ukraine, Europeans are trying to lay the foundations of a new Union more in tune with the present. This has been going on in Versailles since yesterday and will continue until this evening. At the same time, the European Central Bank has adjusted its monetary policy: the bite of inflation is such that the reduction in asset purchases will start in June. The option of a rate hike this year is still on the table.

Meanwhile, the U.S. published yesterday inflation figures February. This increase reaches 0.8% in February and 7.9% over one year. This is what was expected, but it remains a concern, especially if the peak is delayed due to the ongoing geopolitical turmoil. The US central bank's response is expected next week, specifically on March 16 with the launch of the rate hike cycle. Fortunately, for the time being, the U.S. economy is still going strong.


Economic highlights of the day:

The University of Michigan's consumer confidence index for March is today's main indicator.

The dollar is trading around EUR 0.9095. The ounce of gold remains firm around USD 1961. Oil is still volatile, with North Sea Brent crude at USD 109.42 and U.S. light crude WTI at USD 106.44. US debt yields are back near the 2% mark at 1.97% on the 10-year, and the Bund is up 5 points at 0.27%. Bitcoin is sailing around USD 39,400.


On markets:

* Oracle reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday night due to heavy investment in data centers around the world. Piper Sandler also lowered its recommendation on the stock to "underweight" from "neutral". Oracle shares lost 3.7% in pre-market trading.

* Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to make calls for violence against Russians and the Russian military in the context of the invasion of Ukraine, internal emails seen on Thursday by Reuters show. The Kremlin threatened on Friday to shut down Meta Platforms' operations in Russia if such a plan was proven.

Meanwhile, Meta Platforms and Google's parent company Alphabet on Friday defended their advertising deal dubbed "Jedi Blue" after antitrust authorities in the European Union and the United Kingdom opened investigations into the deal on suspicion of harming competition.

* Twitter has appointed three new executives, including Jay Sullivan, former Facebook product manager for virtual and augmented reality, to oversee the development of new services in its consumer division as the microblogging site targets 315 million daily active users by the end of 2023, up from 217 million currently.

* Domino's Pizza - DP Eurasia, which operates the Domino's Pizza brand in Russia, announced on Friday that it was suspending royalties paid to the U.S. group while maintaining the opening of its restaurants in the country.

* Apollo Global Management confirmed that it is considering a takeover bid for the British school and university publishing group Pearson.

* Didi Global - The Asian ride-hailing giant decided to suspend its planned listing in Hong Kong after it failed to meet Chinese regulators' demands for its procedures for handling sensitive user data, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Didi shares plunge 15.4 percent in pre-market trading.

* Rivian - The electric vehicle maker's stock falls 11.2 percent in premarket trading after the group announced supply problems that could cause it to cut its auto production in half this year to 25,000 vehicles.


Analyst recommendations:

  • AGCO: Wells Fargo Securities reinstated coverage with a recommendation of overweight. PT set to $175.
  • Alphabet: Deutsche Bank reinstated coverage of Alphabet Inc. Class A with a recommendation of buy. PT set to $3,150.
  • American Tower: PT raised to $280 from $250 at Wells Fargo.
  • CarMax: Wedbush cut the price target to $95 from $100. Maintains neutral rating.
  • Caterpillar: Wells Fargo Securities reinstated coverage with a recommendation of equal-weight. PT up 9.1% to $231.
  • Centerspace: RBC Capital Markets initiated coverage with a recommendation of sector perform. PT up 3.7% to $105.
  • Chevron: J.P. Morgan downgrades to underweight from neutral. PT down 1.1% to $169.
  • Coats: Jefferies remains Buy with a price target raised from GBp 91 to GBp 95.
  • Exelon: Mizuho Securities upgrades to buy from neutral. PT up 5.5% to $46.
  • Fevertree: J.P. Morgan upgrades from Underweight to Neutral with a target of GBp 1650.
  • Occidental Petroleum: Truist Securities raised the target to $75 from $58. Maintains buy rating.
  • Oracle: Piper Sandler downgrades to underweight from neutral. PT down 8.7% to $70.
  • Prudential: Jefferies remains Buy with a price target reduced from GBp 1800 to GBp 1650.
  • Shell: Exane BNP Paribas upgrades from neutral to outperform with a target of GBp 2800.
  • The Beauty Health Co: J.P. Morgan initiated coverage with a recommendation of overweight. PT up 31% to $24.
  • The Weir Group: HSBC upgrades from hold to buy targeting GBp 1980.
  • Wizz Air: HSBC upgrades from sell to hold targeting GBp 2500.