Fresh spur from Meta and Europe's banks

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A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

The Big Tech earnings season is going some way to justifying the striking outperformance of its mega cap shares this year, with Meta Platforms METAO. the latest to impress overnight and Amazon AMZN.O advancing ahead of its readout on Thursday.

Perhaps even more surprising, Europe's big banks are wowing the gallery too - showing limited, if any, fallout from the failure of ailing Credit Suisse at the end of the quarter.

And so the glass appears half full again despite background tensions around regional U.S. banks and as wider markets brace for several weeks of a U.S. debt ceiling standoff.

Overall, world markets are holding the line as they parse the blizzard of incoming corporate updates and still-mixed messages from macro signals on the state of the economy.

Wednesday's shaping to be an "up day" so far, with Wall St futures and bourses around the world firmly in positive territory ahead of the open.

Revitalised by the craze around what some see as a quantum leap in artificial intelligence developments this year, Meta stock jumped more than 12% after the bell as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said AI was flattering sales and forecast revenue growth far above expectations.

With Amazon reporting later, its stock rose another 2% ahead of the bell too.

The updates underlined Wednesday's outperformance of the Nasdaq - which pushed half a percentage point higher even though the S&P500 ended marginally in the red. Nasdaq futures were up another 1% before Thursday's open.

But the mega caps flatter the move. After a torrid 2022 as interest rates spiralled higher, the narrow FANG+TM .NYFAN index - which captures digital giants Meta, Alphabet, Apple and others - is up a whopping 32% for 2023 so far - almost twice the gain in the Nasdaq 100 .NDX and six times that of the 5% gain in the S&P500 .SPX.

The nuts and bolts side of the economy and the stock market looks less rosy.

The Dow Transports .DJT index sank 3.6% on Wednesday, by contrast, leading to its biggest two-day decline since May 2022 - hurt by news of weaker-than-expected capital goods data and Tuesday's weak United Parcel Service UPS.N results.

The health of the wider economy will get its most comprehensive examination in the release of first-quarter U.S. gross domestic product numbers later on Thursday. The forecast is for slowing of annualised real GDP growth to 2.0% from 2.6% in the final quarter of last year.

But in many respects the GDP and even the earnings season are in the rear view mirror now that we're almost in May and more updated numbers, such as the weekly update on jobless claims, may pack as much of a punch as investors await next month's Federal Reserve policy decision.

The messy debt ceiling problem keeps the immediate horizon cloudy however, with the latest number crunch on Treasury tax receipts putting the "X date" - when the money runs out in the absence of a debt cap extension - somewhere in late July.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly passed a bill to raise the government's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling that includes sweeping spending cuts over the next decade. But the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, and President Joe Biden would veto it if it did.

Despite disruptions to the price of short-term Treasury bill coming due around that X date, BlackRock claims it has been buying U.S. Treasuries in anticipation of an economic slowdown and a protracted debt limit fight.

Two-year Treasury yields hit their lowest in three weeks on Wednesday but have backed up a touch to snug just under 4% today. The dollar was marginally weaker, with crude oil prices struggling to recover from their latest lunge lower this week.

In Europe, Barclays share price jumped 4.5% BARC.L after a profit beat rooted in its credit card business. DeutscheBank rose more than 2% after its forecast-beating results included plans to cut 800 jobs in a new cost-saving drive.

The boss of Britain's antitrust regulator said blocking Microsoft's acquisition of "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard was the right decision for the UK after both companies said it sent the wrong message to the global tech industry.

Events to watch out for on Thursday:

* U.S. Q1 gross domestic product, weekly jobless claims, March pending home sales, April Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey

* U.S. corp earnings: Amazon, Intel, Mastercard, Eli Lilly, Merck, AbbVie, Comcast, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Honeywell, Caterpillar, Gilead Sciences, BYD, Mondelez, Northrop Grumman, Hershey, Keurig Dr Pepper, Valero, Newmont, Altria, Activision Blizzard, Pinterest, Snap, Domino's Pizza, American Airlines, Eastman Chemical, Mohawk, Hasbro, Harley-Davidson, Linde, Hertz, Weyerhaeuser, Principal Financial, Capital One, S&P Global, Wills Towers Watson, Verisign, Cincinnati Financial etc

* European Central Bank board member Fabio Panetta presentation on digital euro

* U.S. Treasury auctions 7-year note

Meta Platforms returns to growth in Q1

Narrowing trade gap adds to GDP estimates

Core capital goods fall back

Job openings to unemployed

By Mike Dolan, Editing by Hugh Lawson Twitter: @reutersMikeD


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