By Susan Mathew and Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main stock indexes ended lower on Friday as escalating tensions in Ukraine and U.S. statements of an imminent Russian invasion prompted investors to dump risky assets in the run-up to a long weekend.

The Nasdaq fell sharply, pulled lower by declines in high-growth stocks, including Apple, Amazon and Tesla.

Russian-backed separatists packed civilians onto buses out of breakaway regions in east Ukraine, another development in a conflict the West believes Moscow plans to use as justification for all-out invasion of its neighbor. Russia has said it has no intention to attack Ukraine, accusing the West of fear-mongering.

Speculation about the Federal Reserve’s next move also weighed on equities. New York Fed Bank President John Williams said earlier in the day it would be appropriate to hike interest rates in March, without mentioning the magnitude.

“This is a confused market, confused about Ukraine, confused about how aggressive the Fed is going to be, and pretty much ignoring very strong earnings results from the fourth quarter,” said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

Expiration of monthly options contracts was also seen adding to the volatility ahead of the U.S. market holiday on Monday for Presidents’ Day.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 31.59 points, or 0.72%, to end at 4,347.50 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 167.87 points, or 1.22%, to 13,548.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 233.51 points, or 0.68%, to 34,078.52.

The indexes logged weekly declines for the second straight week, buffeted by rising tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

Intel Corp tumbled after the chipmaker forecast its profit margin to drop this year and then be steady for several years as it invests in new technologies and factories to meet rising chip demand.

About 78% of the 417 S&P 500 companies have in this reporting season posted quarterly earnings above analyst estimates as per Refinitiv data.

Roku Inc slumped after the streaming platform’s disappointing quarterly revenue and first-quarter outlook.

DraftKings Inc fell after the sports-betting company forecast a bigger-than anticipated 2022 loss.

(Refiles to include dropped word ‘indexes’ in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Susan Mathew and Devik Jain in Bengaluru, and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Maju Samuel Aditya Soni and Aurora Ellis)