Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stocks set to open lower on Wall Street but way off overnight lows
- U.K. hits Russia with sanctions ahead of expected U.S. punitive measures
- Russia recognizes independence of two pro-Moscow regions in Ukraine
- Macy's jumped, Home Depot slumped after issuing quarterly results
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk accuses SEC of leaking information from federal probe
1. Stocks set to open lower on Wall Street but way off overnight lows
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U.S. stock futures on Tuesday erased much of sharp overnight losses as investors tried to figure out whether Russia will invade Ukraine. One day after Moscow recognized the independence of breakaway regions Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukraine's president said Tuesday his country wants peace but won't give up its land. The U.K. on Tuesday announced targeted economic sanctions against five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals. U.S. sanctions are also expected.
- Geopolitical uncertainty Tuesday sent U.S. oil prices up 3.5% to more than $94 per barrel.
- The 10-year Treasury yield rose to almost 1.94%.
- Bitcoin dropped to roughly $37,700.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell Friday and for the second straight week on concerns over the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
- The U.S. stock market was closed Monday for Presidents Day.
2. U.K. hits Russia with sanctions ahead of expected U.S. punitive measures
Germany said Tuesday it'll halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to bring natural gas from Russia directly to Europe. Germany's chancellor said his country won't accept recognition of the two self-proclaimed, pro-Russian separatist regions in Ukraine.
- Addressing lawmakers Tuesday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the first tranche of sanctions would target Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.
- The United Nations Security Council held a rare emergency meeting Monday night in New York City to address the escalating Russia-Ukraine crisis.
- America's ambassador to the U.N. said the U.S. would unveil new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, urging member states to also impose severe consequences on Moscow.
3. Russia recognizes independence of two pro-Moscow regions in Ukraine
Russia announced Tuesday that its recognition of independence for areas in eastern Ukraine extends to territory currently held by Ukrainian forces, further raising concerns about a full-fledged invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin has long sought to restore influence over former Soviet republics, with Ukraine central to his ambitions. Pro-Moscow Luhansk and Donetsk have been engaged in conflict with Ukraine since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Ukraine said that 14,000 people have been killed in the eight-year struggle.
4. Macy's jumped, Home Depot slumped after issuing quarterly results
Macy's shares surged roughly 6% in the premarket after the department store chain on Tuesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales that topped estimates. Macy's also said a strategic review has prompted the retailer to accelerate its turnaround plans, rejecting calls from activist Jana Partners for it to split its e-commerce operations.
Dow stock Home Depot fell 2% in premarket trading despite the home improvement retailer on Tuesday delivering better-than-expected earnings and revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter. Home Depot expects earnings per share growth to be in the low single digits and sales growth to be "slightly positive" in the coming fiscal year.
5. Tesla CEO Elon Musk accuses SEC of leaking information from federal probe
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, via his attorney, accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of leaking information about a federal investigation in order to retaliate against him for public criticism of the federal financial regulator. Monday's letter to a federal judge comes four days after Musk initially alleged the SEC was engaged in harassment by continually investigating him. The conflict between Musk and the SEC began in September 2018 when the commission charged Musk with making "false and misleading" statements to investors over a tweet saying the company secured funding for a take-private deal.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Sign up now for the CNBC Investing Club to follow Jim Cramer's every stock move. Follow the broader market action like a pro on CNBC Pro.