Wall Street closes up day before key PCE data
Nasdaq leads rally on Wall Street
Real estate top S&P 500 sector gainer, financials sole loser
Crude, gold up; bitcoin, dollar weaken
10-year Treasury yield at ~3.55%
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WALL STREET CLOSES UP DAY BEFORE KEY PCE DATA (1615 EDT/2015 GMT
Wall Street's main stocks indexed ended higher on Thursday as investors set aside concerns about the U.S. banking sector and awaited key data the following day that again puts inflation in the spotlight for the equity market to advance further.
Real estate .SPLRCR led the 11 S&P sectors higher, while financials .SPSY the sole decliner.
Semiconductors .SOX rose 1.7%, increasing their year-to-date gains to almost 27%. Small caps .RUT and Dow transports .DJT. also rose, while growth .IGX slightly outpaced the advance of value .IVX stocks.
The Federal Reserve has "more work to do" to get inflation back down to its 2% goal, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on Thursday.
But Kashkari did not say specifically how much further he believes interest rates will need to rise to do the job.
"The one area that is particularly concerning right now is that the services economy, outside of housing, has not shown any sign of slowing down," he said.
Boston Fed President Susan Collins said on Thursday it seems likely that the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates one more time this year.
"Inflation remains too high, and recent indicators reinforce my view that there is more work to do to bring inflation down to the 2% target associated with price stability," she said.
The February reading of the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index is expected to show a 0.4% rise month over month on Friday, and a 4.7% advance year-over-year, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
Here's a snapshot of closing market prices:
ALIBABA SPLIT COULD USHER IN ALPHABET-TYPE SHARE GAINS (1517 EST/1917 GMT)
Many investors are drawing parallels between Alibaba's BABA.N restructuring plans and Google's transformation to Alphabet GOOGL.O nearly eight years ago.
Does that mean the Chinese e-commerce giant could witness a similar share rally?
Google's stock price rose 14% in the three months after the announcement on Aug. 10, 2015 and its shares jumped 21% in the three months following the actual change on Oct. 2 that year, J.P.Morgan notes.
"Compared to Google's reorganization, we think share price impact from Alibaba reorganization could potentially bring about even more near-term upside, given Alibaba's intention to separately list all eligible assets," JPM analysts said in a note on Wednesday.
Alibaba's logistics arm Cainiao Network Technology has started preparations with banks for its Hong Kong initial public offering, a report said.
Among the other five Alibaba units that could explore a public listing, the most valuable asset is its cloud segment, Bernstein analysts said.
The Chinese tech giant has been planning to spin off individual business units for a long time, two sources familiar with the company's thinking told Reuters on Wednesday, with one adding there was a consensus within and outside Alibaba that the stock was trading at a major discount to its inherent value.
"Alibaba is a leader and its multiples are much lower than Amazon so you have a huge value arbitrage there," said Yan Wang, Chief EM & China Strategist at Alpine Macro.
HOT INFLATION MAKE THIS TIME DIFFERENT (1330 EDT/1730 GMT)
In stark contrast to the past 25 years when core inflation in the Group of Seven nations never exceeded 2%, it has now peaked at 5.5%, making this time different, says Deutsche Bank.
There are significant implications that lead to five key takeways, Deutsche Bank says in its fixed-income blog.
Unlike the past 25 years, a hard landing should be the base case, a bigger growth shock is required for the major central banks to ease policy, the easing cycle should be deeper, "risk parity" is on shaky grounds and inflation is well above target.
Further, Deutsche Bank says it is unlikely that monetary policy can be implemented with enough precision to bring inflation back to target without generating a recession.
If inflation runs significantly above target, there should be a "longer fuse" between slowing growth and a central bank pivot, and central banks will presumably need to adopt a more restrictive policy than in the most recent tightening cycles.
The concept of risk parity rests on bonds being a good hedge for equities. But when high inflation becomes an issue, a positive shock to inflation coincides with a negative shock to growth, leading to higher bond yields and lower equities.
There is scope for a significant rotation out of foreign bonds and into JGBs by domestic investors. This should drive global term premia higher.
STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS: JOBLESS CLAIMS, GDP (1145 EDT/1545 GMT)
Data released on Tuesday sang a cover of that old duet about a tight labor market despite nascent signs of economic softening.
The number of U.S. workers filling out first-time applications for unemployment benefits USJOB=ECI inched up 3.7% last week to 198,000, landing a hair to the north of the 196,000 consensus, according to the Labor Department.
Despite growing list of high-profile layoff announcements from the tech-plus sectors, and the I-can't-believe-it's-a-crisis in the regional banking space, the jobs market remains tight - a frustrating notion for the Federal Reserve, which views this tightness as an inflation driver.
"The number of initial claims remained in line with pre-pandemic levels, signaling continued strong demand for jobs in March despite concerns about the banking sector during the month," writes Sam Millette, fixed income strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network.
"Economists expect to see continued strong job growth when the March employment report is released next week, and further job market strength would likely support Fed plans to keep monetary policy restrictive at their next meeting in early May."
Of the 13 weeks of 2023 year-to-date, all but two showed fewer than 200,000 initial claims, a level associated with healthy labor market churn.
Still, a 1% uptick in the four-week moving average of initial claims - which irons out weekly volatility - suggests a move in the right direction.
Ongoing claims USJOBN=ECI, reported on a one-week lag, also took a nominal 0.2% baby step upward to 1.689 million, nudging a bit closer to the 1.7 million pre-pandemic level.
Next, gather around for a bit of ancient history.
The Commerce Department unveiled its third and final take on GDP USGDPF=ECI for the long-ago era called the fourth quarter.
The number was revised down 10 basis points to a still-respectable 2.6% on a quarterly annualized basis.
Private inventories, consumer expenditures, government spending and imports were the main drivers to the upside.
"Our base case is that the lagged and cumulative effects of restrictive policy will keep the economy growing at a below potential pace over coming quarters," says Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "But we see downside risk from lending activity resulting from recent bank failures, which could have an impact on business hiring and investment decisions and economic activity more broadly."
The more worrisome aspect of the report is the 0.4 percentage cut to consumer spending growth, to 1.0% from 1.4%, suggesting significantly softer demand than originally reported.
Consumer spending added 0.7 percentage points to the headline number, with expenditures on services accounting for the majority of that contribution.
"That retrenchment undoubtedly reflected the impact of rising prices, but also the normalization of spending after the stimulus-fueled buying binge on stuff that corresponded with limited mobility during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021," says Jim Baird, CIO at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
"Notably, that marked the slowest quarterly increase in consumption since the recovery began in mid-2020."
Market participants will get a clearer picture regarding consumer behavior with tomorrow's broad-ranging Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, with will show income, expenditures, the saving rate and perhaps most compellingly, the PCE price index.
Wall Street appeared to be on track to extend Wednesday's rally, with Apple AAPL.O, Amazon.com AMZN.O and Microsoft MSFT.O again doing the heavy lifting.
WALL STREET RALLIES IN SEA OF GREEN (1015 EDT/1415 GMT)
Wall Street is all systems go on Thursday after jobless claims show layoffs remain low and the labor market is extremely tight, suggesting the U.S. economy can withstand high interest rates.
Real estate .SPLRCR led 10 of all 11 the S&P 500 sectors higher, as the beaten-down sector bounces almost 6% off five-month lows hit last Friday. Communications services .SPLSRL was the sole declining sector.
Semiconductors .SOX, struggling through its worst downturn in the last 13 years, also rose as did small caps .RUT and Dow transports .DJT. Value .IVX outpaced gains in growth stocks .IGX in a market awash in green.
But the market may be discounting the harm from tighter credit markets as the Fed keeps monetary policy tight.
While difficult to assess how long the banking crisis will linger, elevated funding costs and tighter lending standards ahead present the potential for a serious shock, says
Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo Global Management.
"The bottom line is that if the ongoing banking crisis results in tighter bank lending standards over the coming quarters, it increases the risks of a harder landing," Slok said in a note.
Here is a snapshot of market prices in early trading:
WAITING FOR A CHINA REBOUND? HOW ABOUT GOLD? (GMT 1325)
Though investors have put their hopes in the recovery of industrial activities in China, global concerns might make them look for a haven in precious metals instead.
Accordingto Berenberg analysts, early signs of the long-awaited China rebound indicate it "will not be particularly stellar, offering only modest growth." Thus, rather than waiting for Godot from the East, investors could turn their attention to "well supported" gold, for instance.
As the banking sector has been shaken by collapses and overall uncertainty, and global GDP is likely to slow in Q2, offsetting any potential gains from China, and gold might get a boost from a possibly more dovish Fed, Berenberg says.
"In the near term, we believe that an overweight precious metals strategy is merited due to ongoing geopolitical concerns and risks in the banking sector."
This being the case, the broker recommends gold-oriented stocks in its analysis, such as Greatland Gold GGPL.L, Endeavour Mining EDV.L and Pan African Resources PAFR.L.
While Berenberg also highlights Boliden BOL.ST, which is mostly copper-focused, as a "top-quality operator," it notes that the Swedish miner should generate 14% of its 2023 revenue from gold.
WATCH THE TAPE, THE TWO-YEAR, AND NOT THE FED (0915 EDT/1115 GMT)
Yields on two-year Treasury note rose after jobless claims remained low on Thursday as tighter credit conditions have yet to show a material impact on the strong labor market.
The jump in yields suggests the market sees the Federal Reserve still hiking rates to slow growth when policymakers meet in May.
But investors should follow the markets, not the Fed for clues on when the central bank's rate hikes will end, says Richard Saperstein, chief investment officer at Treasury Partners in New York.
It may be possible that the Fed raises rates by another 25 basis points when policymakers end their meeting on May 3, as many in the market believe, Saperstein says.
But the two-year note's yield has moved below the fed funds rate, which historically signals that the Fed is near the end of its rate hiking cycle and the fed funds rate is near its peak.
Meanwhile, futures pointed to a higher open after initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 198,000for the week ended March 25, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 196,000 claims for the latest week.
FOR THURSDAY'S LIVE MARKETS POSTS PRIOR TO 0900 EDT/1300 GMT - CLICK HERE
Alibaba trades at discount to peershttps://tmsnrt.rs/42MlWTZ
Early market snapshothttps://tmsnrt.rs/3JZACqf
GDP consumer contributionhttps://tmsnrt.rs/3M0D7v5
The SOX is poised for its best quarter since Q2 2020https://tmsnrt.rs/3nsGtg5
Closing market priceshttps://tmsnrt.rs/40vKRcN
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