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Market Recap – April 1, 2024

Keel Point

April 1, 2024

First quarter economic growth is getting a boost from stronger personal income and spending, while PCE inflation for February has come in slightly lower than expected. In the shortened trading week, S&P and DJIA stock market prices notched new records. The S&P 500 had the best first quarter since 2019, up 10.56% (dividends included).

  • Stock prices are continuing to rise, and more broadly than just the Magnificent 7 or just the U.S. Most stock sectors are above their 200-day moving average. JPMorgan notes: “Thirty-five out of 48 MSCI countries we track are higher on the year—and the United States ranks 14”.
  • The Fed’s updated March Summary of Economic Projections and Fed fund futures markets are in sync with three rate cuts, most likely starting in June. Fed FOMC members and investors also largely agree on the inflation & GDP outlook.
  • The unexpected strength of real consumption in February suggests that first-quarter GDP growth is at a healthy 2.4% annual rate. The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s GDPNow first quarter estimate is also 2.3% as of last Friday, March 29.
  • Core PCE inflation prices increased in February a little less than expected. As expected, the annual core PCE inflation rate fell to 2.8% from 2.9%, but the 6-month annualized rate climbed to 2.9% from 1.9% in December.
  • Several indicators suggest that labor demand is still easing. Consensus for new jobs in March is 180,000, which is down from the 275,000 increase in February. No change is expected in the current 3.9% unemployment rate for March, but even a small change in the data could bring it back down to 3.8%.
  • Tight labor market conditions have driven efficiency boosting investments in technology. Unlike during the dotcom productivity boom that started in the mid-1990s, the current surge in productivity is largely from software, which further supports the general drive towards artificial intelligence — a general-purpose technology that will have an impact across labor sectors.

President Xi continues his highly publicized outreach to U.S. businesses to mitigate declining foreign direct investment in China.

  • Facing economic weakness and an outflow of foreign investment, China is stepping up its efforts to restore foreign business confidence in the Chinese economy. But what sparked the crisis remains a limiting condition if China’s primary goals of boosting economic security and self-sufficiency prevent it from providing a more level playing field for foreign investors.

Disclosure: Securities offered through Keel Point Capital, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC. Brokerage and Investment Advisory Services are offered under the Keel Point brand. Investment Advisory Services offered by Keel Point, LLC, an affiliate of Keel Point Capital, LLC. While reasonable efforts have been made to provide data from sources considered to be reliable, no guarantee of accuracy is given. Keel Point does not give tax, accounting, regulatory, or legal advice to its clients.

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