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After a volatile week, the main US equity indices ended in positive territory thanks to a strong rally on Friday after a softer-than-expected April jobs report boosted hopes that the Fed could start cutting interest rates soon. Overall, US data have been surprising on the downside recently and markets are now pricing in two full Fed rate cuts in 2024 and three more cuts in 2025. Over the week, growth stocks outperformed value shares and small-caps outpaced large-caps. It was the 2nd-busiest week of Q1 earnings reports and a positive reception to Apple’s earnings release after the close of trading on Thursday seemed to help drive a rebound in overall sentiment.

US equities managed to snap a string of three weekly losses. Earnings took center stage with the spotlight on the Magnificent 7 stocks. Despite the high bar, companies have so far been able to beat expectations, helping the S&P 500 recover half of its April losses. The Nasdaq outperformed, up 4% on the week (its best week since the start of Nov 2023), helped in part by strength in Apple and a late rebound in chipmaker NVIDIA. Shares in Google parent Alphabet also surged in the week following its announcement of better-than-expected Q1 earnings along with the company’s first dividend payment. The Dow was the laggard. On the Macro side, the US economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.6% in Q1, well below consensus estimates of around 2.5% and the slowest pace of growth in nearly two years.

Stocks recorded broad losses, as concerns over tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of U.S. interest rates remaining “higher for longer” appeared to weigh on sentiment. Mega-cap technology shares lagged as rising rates placed a higher theoretical discount on future earnings. A Q1 revenue miss from ASML Holdings also seemed to weigh on the sector and on general optimism toward companies with AI-related earnings. Some strong economic data (e.g retail sales +0.7% vs. 0.3% expected) appeared to increase worries that the Fed would push back any interest rate cuts to the fall, if not to 2025. Conversely, downward surprises in housing market data may have furthered inflation fears by auguring continued supply tightness. As was the case last week, Fed officials expressed their concern with recent economic data.

The major US equity benchmarks retreated for the week amid heightened fears of conflict in the Middle East and some signs of persistent inflation pressures that pushed long-term Treasury yields higher. Large-caps held up better than small-caps, with the Russell 2000 Index suffering its biggest daily decline in almost two months on Wednesday. Growth stocks fared better than value shares. Wednesday morning’s release of the US CPI data, which came in higher than expected, weighed on investors’ sentiment. Overall inflation rose 3.5% yoy, its biggest gain since September. The “supercore” inflation (services prices excl. energy and housing costs) jumped 4.8% yoy, substantially higher than expectations and its biggest increase in 10 months.

The US large-cap indexes pulled back from record highs, as the S&P 500 recorded its worst week since the start of the year (and the Dow the worst YTD). On the week, all the majors were red with Small Caps and The Dow being the worst performers. The market’s performance also narrowed again, with growth stocks faring better than value shares. Energy stocks soared this week (to a record high) - the only sector to end green - while Healthcare and Real Estate lagged. VIX saw its biggest weekly surge since August 2023. Stocks moved lower following the release of the March ISM manufacturing reading on Monday, which came in well above expectations and indicated expansion—if barely—for the first time in 16 months. The Friday US jobs report showed that employers added 303,000 jobs in March, well above expectations.

The major equity indexes advanced over the shortened trading week to end a quarter of strong gains. The S&P 500 Index recorded new closing and intraday highs to end the week. The market’s advance was notably broad, with an equal-weighted version of the S&P 500 Index gaining 1.64%, well ahead of the 0.39% increase in the S&P 500. Small-caps also easily outperformed large-caps. market activity was generally subdued ahead of the holiday weekend. US economic data were mixed. Durable goods orders ex- defense & aircraft rose a solid 0.7%, much more than anticipated. New home sales fell unexpectedly in February. Consumer confidence declined slightly in March, defying consensus expectations for an increase.

Stocks moved higher for the week, pushing the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite to new records, as investors welcomed news that the Fed is still anticipating three interest rate cuts later in the year. A late rise helped NVIDIA reach a record high on Friday and lift the company’s market cap near USD 2.4 trillion. The week’s macro data arguably supported hopes that the economy was continuing to expand without reigniting inflation pressures. February existing home sales surprised most observers by jumping 9.5%. The news from the Fed helped drive a decline in longer-term Treasury yields over the week.

US stocks were mostly lower for the week, as investors weighed upside surprises in inflation data and signs of moderating consumer spending. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held up better than other indices and reached a record high on Wednesday before falling back to end the week. Energy shares outperformed on the back of higher oil prices, while technology shares lagged due to weakness in NVIDIA and other chipmakers. On the macro side, US retail sales rose 0.6% in February, missing  expectations. The US CPI rose 0.4% in February, in line with consensus expectations, but core prices (less food and energy) rose a tick more than expected, also by 0.4%. The PPI rose 0.6% MoM in February, roughly double consensus estimates and the most in six months.

Growing hopes that the Federal Reserve might begin cutting interest rates sooner rather than later appeared to help bring the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indices to new record intraday highs before pulling back late Friday. Small-cap and value shares outperformed, while mega-cap tech shares lagged due in part to a decline in Apple following reports about slowing iPhone sales in China. Notably, Danish pharmaceuticals company Novo Nordisk displaced Tesla on Thursday as the 12th biggest public company by market capitalization. On the macro side, Friday’s US jobs report showed that employers added 275,000 jobs in February, more than consensus forecasts, but January’s gain was revised significantly lower, from 353,000 to 229,000.

The Nasdaq Composite rose to an all-time high Friday, surpassing its 2021 record while the S&P 500 closed above 5100 for the first time. The month also closed a strong February, with the S&P 500 marking its strongest beginning two months of the year since 2019. The week’s gains were also broad-based, with an equal-weighted version of the S&P 500 Index modestly outperforming its capitalization version. Thursday’s release of the PCE price index was a disappointment as core prices rose by 3.9%, above expectations of around 3.7%. The 12 Fed policymakers scheduled to deliver speeches over the week all seemed to echo the recent narrative that they were in no rush to cut interest rates. But on Friday, a disappointing ISM Manufacturing index (back to 47.8) and Fed Governor Waller indication that the Fed might be willing to implement a new “Operation Twist” pushed bond yields lower and gold prices higher.

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