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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 12-18-2014 04:00 PM

Friday Five: Russia Woes Contained for Now

Plus, a 'patient' Fed sparks a rally, FedEx under-delivers, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to The Friday Five, Morningstar's take on five stories in the market this week. Joining me with The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason.

Stipp: Up first this week: Russia was in focus in a big way; they've had tough couple of months capped off by a really tough week this week.

Glaser: It has been a tough time for Russia, precipitated by this halving in oil prices. The Russian economy is very exposed to oil; as that price goes down, they see themselves getting into trouble very quickly. You add in some of the sanctions and other problems, and you see how these issues are mounting.

This week we saw the ruble almost in free-fall, after the Central Bank had tried to stem the tide by raising rates from 10% to 17%; it didn't work. The ruble hit an all-time low against the dollar at one point before bouncing back somewhat. They seem to have stabilized the currency through selling of foreign-exchange reserves, but it's still a very much a country and an economy under pressure.

For most investors, the real question is, is this contained? Is this a Russia-specific issue, or are we going to see these kind of issues like in 1998, spread to other emerging markets? Right now there are no signs that's happening; it does seem to be contained. We talked to Bob Johnson about it this week; he doesn't see it as a major systemic threat, but obviously it's one we are going to follow very closely.

Stipp: Back here at home, the Fed soothed a lot of worries this week by saying one word: "patient."

Glaser: They did, there was some discussion that maybe the Fed was going to act sooner rather than later in terms of raising interest rates, after we had some strong jobs reports, and after it seemed like there is a lot of different signs to the U.S. economy is in fact accelerating.

Janet Yellen and the rest of the FOMC said very firmly said that that wasn't the case this week in their statement. They said that they are going to remain patient before they raise rates, and they don't see that as very different than saying they were going to hold rates low for a considerable time. In the press conference, Yellen clarified that that probably means two meetings, which pushes us out to April the very earliest for a rate increase. It could past that.

It sounds like they just want to make people aware that rates very well could rise in the middle of next year; that's what most people expect to happen. But the idea of a surprise early rise seems like it's pretty much off the table, and the market very much cheered that news.

Stipp: We got CPI data this week, and inflation still remains very low.

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