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The Stock Market Faces a Wild Week of Earnings from Big Tech and the Federal Reserve's Inflation Fight

April 28, 2024
minute read

Once again, the dramatic fluctuations in the "Magnificent Seven" stocks are driving volatility throughout U.S. equities, setting the stage for a potentially turbulent week as all eyes turn to the Federal Reserve and Wall Street braces for another wave of Big Tech earnings reports.

Despite a rollercoaster week, stocks ended on a positive note, with the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite posting their most substantial weekly gains since early November, as reported by Dow Jones Market Data. Contributing to this rally was Alphabet's impressive over 10% surge following its earnings report, which helped counteract the previous session's sell-off in mega-cap tech giants.

The preceding day witnessed the Dow Jones Industrial Average slashing nearly half of what had been an almost 700-point slump by the close, as investors digested underwhelming earnings guidance from Meta Platforms Inc., a disappointing first-quarter GDP report, and ongoing signs of inflationary pressures. Similarly, the S&P 500 managed to recover approximately two-thirds of its earlier session losses.

Despite the recent surge in benchmark U.S. bond yields over the past two months, the market's recent volatility reflects mounting concerns regarding a potential deceleration in earnings growth among high-flying tech firms, notes Thierry Wizman, global FX and rates strategist at Macquarie.

However, some of these concerns were assuaged on Friday as tech stocks rebounded strongly on the back of robust earnings reports from Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp., suggesting that robust earnings could overshadow the impact of interest rate movements.

The upcoming week is poised to be eventful, with a spotlight on Amazon.com Inc.'s earnings on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision on Wednesday, Apple Inc.'s quarterly results on Thursday, and Friday's jobs report for April. Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi, emphasizes the significance of mega-cap tech companies delivering strong first-quarter earnings amid the prevailing market volatility.

Looking ahead, the focus shifts to the Federal Reserve's meeting, with investors eager to gauge whether there will be increased emphasis on inflation remaining above the central bank's 2% target. Anna Rathbun, chief investment officer at CBIZ Investment Advisory Services, anticipates policymakers facing a dilemma if they adhere to the 2% inflation target, particularly given the latest inflation data.

Chris Diaz, co-head of Brown Advisory’s global taxable fixed-income team, echoes concerns about inflation and the economy's trajectory, cautioning against overly confident predictions about future inflation trends. Diaz highlights the importance of the upcoming jobs report, which economists expect to show a decrease in payroll gains compared to March.

Moreover, as inflation hovers around 3%, doubts arise about the Fed's narrative of achieving a "soft" economic landing. Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive of JP Morgan Chase & Co., has expressed reservations about the economy's prospects, warning about the possibility of benchmark Treasury yields surpassing 8% due to inflationary pressures.

While higher yields could potentially disrupt the economy, risk assets appear priced for continued growth. Diaz suggests a preference for cash, given the uncertainty, emphasizing the attractiveness of shorter-term Treasury bills' yields compared to longer-term Treasury notes.

In conclusion, as Treasury yields continue to rise, fueled by expectations of increasing U.S. debt issuance and the Fed's gradual reduction of its holdings, investors remain on edge amidst uncertainty surrounding inflation, economic growth, and monetary policy.

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

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