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S&P 500 Futures Rise as Investors Balance Ai Hopes With Concerns About Interest Rates

March 18, 2024
minute read

U.S. stock markets experienced a rise on Monday morning as investors weighed optimism surrounding developments in artificial intelligence against concerns regarding monetary policy, with anticipation building ahead of the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy meeting later in the week.

Here's a breakdown of the market movements:

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by 167 points, representing a 0.4% increase, reaching 38,881.
  • The S&P 500 saw a gain of 44 points, up by 0.9%, to reach 5,161.
  • The Nasdaq Composite surged by 192 points, marking a 1.2% rise, reaching 16,164.

In terms of recent performance, the Dow experienced a fractional decline last week, extending its downward trend for a third consecutive week. Similarly, the S&P 500 posted a 0.1% decrease, marking its second straight week of losses, although it remains only 1.1% below its all-time high. The Nasdaq also saw a decline of 0.7% for its second consecutive week of losses.

Driving the market sentiment this week are two crucial central bank meetings. The Bank of Japan is anticipated to make adjustments to its negative-interest-rate policy on Tuesday, while the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday may include revisions to its interest-rate cut projections for the year.

The Fed is widely expected to maintain its current interest rates at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting. Of particular interest to investors will be the release of the "dot plot," which illustrates individual policymakers' forecasts for interest rates as part of the Fed's quarterly Summary of Economic Projections.

However, concerns arise due to the limited progress in reducing inflation since the dot plot was last updated in December. David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, highlighted this concern, stating that the lack of progress poses a risk for this week's meeting.

The December dot plot indicated that the median forecast among policymakers was for the fed-funds rate to decrease to 4.6% by the end of 2024 and 3.6% by the end of 2025, down from its current range of 5.25%-5.50%. This projection suggested the possibility of three quarter-point rate cuts this year and four the following year.

Kelly emphasized the importance of maintaining a clear pattern in the Fed's actions, particularly regarding rate cuts, to provide stability for market participants. However, he noted the potential for disruption if even a few policymakers adopt a more hawkish stance, which could alter the anticipated timetable for rate adjustments.

In other news, builder confidence in the housing market rose for the fourth consecutive month in March, fueled by robust buyer demand and expectations of increased demand in the months ahead. The National Association of Home Builders reported a 3-point increase in its monthly confidence index, reaching 51 in March.

Eric Ng
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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