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Stock Market Soars in Three-Day Rally Amid Hopes for Fed Rate Cuts


Lauren Miller

May 6, 2024 - 20:26 pm


Surging Hopes for Rate Cuts Propel Stocks to Stellar Three-Day Rally

Stock markets have brightened with a notable three-day ascent, marking the most robust rally since November. This surge is particularly anchored on the anticipation that the Federal Reserve may scale down interest rates within this calendar year.

The S&P 500 leaped by 1 percent, surpassing its 50-day average price—a crucial benchmark for many analysts signifying the continuation of a positive outlook. The boost is also attributed to an impressive earnings season, reviving investor sentiment after prior market softenings have rendered certain segments of the market appealing. Notwithstanding the rally, concerns linger regarding the persistence of this uptrend due to lower-than-average trading volumes, even though most sectors recorded gains.

Chris Larkin from E*Trade, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, expounded, "Bulls seek to sustain the current upswing after last week's close shave with bearish downturns. Although this week's economic data schedule is relatively light, considerable attention will be on Federal Reserve officials' speeches. Market players will keenly dissect any hints pointing to potential interest rate cuts."

Notable advancements across industries are evident as the U.S. equity benchmark climbed over 5,180, with heavyweights such as Nvidia Corp. and Tesla Inc. leading the charge. Micron Technology Inc. also enjoyed a substantial uptick following an analyst's upgrade. Contrastingly, Apple Inc. slipped, coinciding with Warren Buffett's revelation of reducing his stake in the tech giant despite previous commendations for the company. Furthermore, yields on Treasury 10-year notes dipped slightly to 4.49 percent.

Investors also remained vigilant regarding current international tensions, specifically Israel's rebuttal to Hamas's declarations of a consented ceasefire to halt conflicts in Gaza. Further stirring the markets, oil prices concluded the day on a higher note.

After Jerome Powell's comparatively dovish remarks last Wednesday, the investor community parsed through subsequent comments from various Fed officials slated to speak throughout the week. Thomas Barkin, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, projected that heightened rates would continue to decelerate the economy, assisting in bringing inflation closer to the 2 percent target. In parallel, John Williams of the New York Fed acknowledged that rate cuts are on the horizon, albeit contingent upon a holistic review of economic indicators.

Even under the pressures of the persistently high-interest rates, strong corporate earnings this quarter are seen as justifying the lofty stock valuations. This is the verdict from strategists at BlackRock Investment Institute, who shared their take in a weekly commentary, maintaining confidence in American equities. They declared, "Given the robust corporate earnings, our position remains overweight in U.S. stocks."

It has been observed that over 80 percent of S&P 500 firms have reported their Q1 financials, with profit growth far surpassing initial, modest expectations. Bloomberg Intelligence's Gina Martin Adams pointed out that earnings growth for the index is poised to achieve a 6.5 percent turnout—nearly double the preseason forecasts of 3.75 percent.

However, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Marko Kolanovic advises caution, suggesting that projections for double-digit earnings growth in 2023 for S&P 500 companies are overly ambitious amidst the challenges of higher interest rates. "The consensus on earnings expectations for this year appears overly upbeat," he penned, highlighting that such analyst projections are betting on a 17 percent rise in S&P 500 earnings from the first to fourth quarters—dependent on either substantial revenue growth or considerable margin expansion.

John Stoltzfus at Oppenheimer Asset Management adds a more optimistic tone, "Q1's S&P 500 earnings surpassed expectations and the recent retreat in stock valuations have returned price-to-earnings multiples of major U.S. indices to what we believe are attractive levels."

The current climate for stocks remains encouraging as explained by David Lefkowitz of UBS Global Wealth Management. It is characterized by sound and expanding profit growth, prospective decline in inflation rates, a Federal Reserve more inclined towards rate cuts than hikes, and a robust inflow of investments into the sphere of artificial intelligence.

At LPL Financial, Adam Turnquist spoke to the strength of the stock market's breadth and the growth in momentum, remarking, "With the market flexing robust breadth and momentum gaining ground, a finish higher than the 50-day moving average would signal a positive conclusion for the recent market correction."

In the meantime, hedge funds are altering their previously pessimistic positions on consumer equities. A resurgence of rate cut bets, stoked by recent economic figures and Federal Reserve commentary, has prompted this shift. Last week saw hedge funds gravitate towards consumer discretionary stocks after four weeks of disposals, as per data from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s prime brokerage. This was propelled by long positions and the most significant short covering since December of the previous year.

Morgan Stanley strategists advocate a defensive stance, promoting consumer staples amidst the "mixed" signals from crucial U.S. economic indicators and the resultant stock market fluctuations. They suggest a cautious investment strategy due to the uncertain economic narrative, which could lead to erratic market pricing and leadership changes between stock clusters.

The intrigue extends to upcoming corporate earnings reports. Earning reports from Arm Holdings Plc will discern if the company maintains its gains from the thriving artificial intelligence market. Meanwhile, gig economy representatives like Airbnb Inc. may report subdued growth. However, Uber Technologies Inc. is expected to stand out due to its expanding network of drivers and merchants, ushering in increased user activity.

Walt Disney Co. is anticipated to produce strong results after recent successes such as the proxy battle victory over Nelson Peltz, cost-reduction measures, streaming investments nearing fruition, and continued theme park patronage.

Corporate Highlights

The corporate landscape is also buzzing with activity:

  • Boeing Co. is under a fresh inquiry by U.S. aviation authorities about 787 Dreamliner inspections. There are concerns over potential falsified records by employees. (For further information, please visit Boeing's safety investigation)