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The morning catch up: ASX set to lift; US markets tear higher as US Fed signals three rate cuts

Published 21/03/2024, 09:57 am
© Reuters.  The morning catch up: ASX set to lift; US markets tear higher as US Fed signals three rate cuts
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A strong performance on the American markets overnight is likely to push the ASX up in response, with ASX Futures indicating a 0.61% or 47-point gain in early trading.

The S&P500 and Dow Jones hit record highs overnight, with the S&P500 jumping 46.1 points or 0.89% to 5,224.6 points and the Dow adding a whopping 400 points or 1.03% to hit a fresh ceiling.

The Nasdaq also had a very strong performance, gaining 1.25% or 202.6 points to 16,369.4.

UK prices interest rate cuts

The Bank of England (BoE) has yet to commit to any rate cuts this year, although the market is expecting three.

Inflation over the pond has been sticky but fell more than expected over the month of February, giving the market plenty of optimism that relief will come soon.

“After this morning’s weaker than expected inflation report from the UK, the market is taking that as a green light to price in a June rate cut from the BoE,” XTB research director for UK market Kathleen Brooks said.

“Previously the first rate cut had been August. The market now expects just under three rate cuts from the BOE this year. The market is poised for a dovish BoE on Thursday.

“Our BOE watch list includes the BOE decision split – will there be anyone voting for a hike?

“With progress made on wage increases and inflation, there is a chance no one will vote for a hike at this meeting. This could be seen as a step closer to the BoE cutting interest rates.

GBP/USD is falling as we move through the European morning session. It has fallen through the $1.27 level, although it is finding support around the $1.269.”

What happened overnight?

US and European markets

Strong performances in the US markets were a direct response to the Fed’s dovish language on its next rate decision.

“We believe that our policy rate is likely at its peak for this type of cycle and that if the economy evolves broadly as expected, it will likely be appropriate to begin dialling back policy restraint at some point this year,” Powell said while emphasising the 2% inflation target remained.

The Fed is also signalling three rate cuts this year, although with a little more certainty than the BoE – the Fed’s dot plot is a data and opinion-based forecast of the central bank’s expectations, mapping out policymakers' predictions for where interest rates could be headed in the future.

According to the dot plot, the majority of Fed members expect interest rates to fall from between 5.25% and 5.5% to 4.6% over three separate rate cuts this year, mirroring their December predictions closely.

Tech stocks enjoyed a sizeable bump from the good news. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) lifted 2.53%, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) 1.47% and Nvidia gained 1.09% while AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) fell 0.93% as Nvidia announced a new AI chip family at its annual GPU Technology Conference.

As for non-tech stocks; Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) gained 11.8% after a US$11 billion takeover offer, Chipotle added 3.5% to its stock after announcing a stock split, and Boeing (NYSE:BA) shares gained 3.7% on news it is considering selling two of its defence businesses.

In Europe, markets were mostly flat.

The FTSE300 and FTSE100 made no significant movements either way but household goods fell 1.4% and utilities gained 1%.

Luxury French firm Kering (EPA:PRTP) fell 11.9% on warnings first-quarter sales were likely to drop 10%, following Gucci’s weak sales in Asian markets.

Currencies and commodities

Major currencies strengthened against the US dollar overnight.

The Euro climbed from US$1.0835 to near US$1.0920 at the US market close, the Aussie lifted from US$0.6510 to near US$0.6580 and the Japanese Yen moved from 151.79 yen per US dollar to near 151.30 yen.

Global oil prices fell in response to the dovish comments of the US Fed, even though US crude stockpiles fell for a second week, falling by 2 million barrels to 445 million barrels for the week ending March 15, against a forecast 13,000 barrel increase.

Brent crude prices dropped by US$1.43 or 1.6% to US$85.95 per barrel, while US Nymex crude prices fell by US$1.79 or 2.1% to US$81.68 per barrel.

Base metals were a mix – copper fell 0.5%, while aluminium gained 0.4% and iron ore fell by US$0.42 or 0.4% to US$110.29 per tonne, mostly due to continued concerns over China’s property and construction sectors.

Gold futures lifted slightly by US$1.30 or 0.1%, to US$2,161 per ounce, while spot gold closed the US session at around US$2,183 per ounce.

On the small cap front

The ASX Small Ordinaries gained 1.6 points or 0.05% last night, edging out the ASX’s mostly flat performance.

You can read about the following and more throughout the day on our website.

  • Evolution Energy Minerals Ltd (ASX:EV1) is securing vital infrastructure agreements for its Chilalo Graphite Project in Tanzania, working toward a finalised port option, power supply, road access and community compensation.
  • Australian Strategic Materials Ltd (ASX:ASM, OTC:ASMMF) received a US$600 million letter of interest from US EXIM for its Dubbo Project, a testament to the company’s efforts in building relationships with potential US stakeholders.
  • Animoca Brands Corporation Ltd subsidiary Quidd has inked a multi-year partnership with Newcastle United FC, to create digital trade collections including licensed digital trading cards, digital video moments, and digital memorabilia on Quidd.
  • Read more on Proactive Investors AU

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