U.S. stock-index futures were lower on Friday, but pared deeper losses after reports that Russian shelling had caused a fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, raising fears of an unprecedented nuclear disaster.
Ukraine officials later said the fire, in a training building of the facility, had been extinguished.
How are stock index-futures trading?
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
dropped 80 points, or 0.2%, to 33,657
S&P 500 futures
fell 14 points, or 0.3%, to 4,345
dropped 57 points, or 0.4%, to 13,972
What’s driving markets?
Dow futures plunged about 500 points immediately after the first reports of the nuclear plant fire emerged late Thursday, with S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures following a similar path, making up lost ground as the night went on after steep initial declines.
According to Associated Press reports, the nuclear power plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar had been shelled by Russian troops, sparking a fire at the facility. The plant reportedly has six reactors, and three had been offline before the attack.
Ukranian state emergency service later said on Facebook that the fire had been in a training building and had been contained. The regional military service said early measurements on Friday showed radiation was “unchanged” and posing no danger to the population.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi was due to hold a press conference discussing the situation at the plant on Friday. He tweeted that he was “deeply concerned” with the situation at that powerplant, appealing to “parties to refrain from actions that can put NPPs in danger.”
In a series of tweets, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Graholm called Russia’s military operations at the plant “reckless,” but said “We have seen no elevated radiation readings near the facility” and added that the reactors are being safely shut down.
As the fire burned, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, tweeted that potential fallout could be worse than Chernobyl, and said “Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!”
According to experts, the risk lies if the plant loses power and is unable to cool the nuclear material — leading to a meltdown, which could be accompanied by an explosion.
Stock futures had been little changed before news of the attack.
During the regular trading day, the stock market failed to hold onto gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed down 96.69 points, or 0.3%, to 33,794.66; the S&P 500
fell 23.05 points, or 0.5%, ending at 4,363.49; and the Nasdaq Composite
ended 214.07 points lower, or 1.6%, finishing at 13,537.94.