Stocks Climb as Soft-Landing Chorus Grows Louder: Markets Wrap (2024)

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This content was published on January 25, 2024 - 21:31

(Bloomberg) -- Wall Street traders pushed stocks to another all-time high on speculation the Federal Reserve will be able to engineer a soft landing as the US economy remains fairly resilient and inflation shows signs of cooling.

Equities notched their sixth straight day of gains as the latest economic data defied forecasts for a recession, bolstering the outlook for Corporate America. While such strength implies policymakers would be in no rush to cut rates, a closely watched measure of underlying inflation coming in line with the Fed’s 2% target was seen by many as an encouraging signal.

“There are no recession concerns here, and to make matters even better, we don’t see any accompanying blowout growth in prices that are used in the GDP calculation,” said Charles Hepworth, investment director at GAM Investments. “Stronger growth without inflation is what everyone wants.”

The S&P 500 closed near 4,900. International Business Machines Corp. soared on a bullish outlook, while Tesla Inc. sank as Elon Musk’s pitch for investors to look past slower sales growth fell flat. In late hours, Intel Corp. gave a disappointing forecast and Visa Inc.’s profit beat estimates.

US 10-year yields slid to 4.12%. Swap contracts continued to fully price in a Fed reduction in May, while boosting bets on total cuts this year to around 140 basis points. The euro fell as President Christine Lagarde’s affirmation the European Central Bank may begin lowering rates from around mid-2024 was taken by markets as a sign that earlier moves are in play.

A survey conducted by 22V Research shows 50% of respondents have lowered their recession expectations since before the December Fed Meeting. When it comes to prospects for 2024 real GDP growth, most investors surveyed expect it will be in-line or stronger than consensus.

The US economy’s fourth-quarter growth trounced forecasts as cooling inflation fueled consumer spending, capping a surprisingly strong year. Gross domestic product increased at a 3.3% annualized rate. A closely watched measure of underlying inflation rose 2% for a second straight quarter.

Rob Swanke at Commonwealth Financial Network says the data should provide enough ammo for US officials to maintain a dovish stance — even if they keep rates where they are. To Callie Cox at eToro, while a recession isn’t out of the question, it looks like the central bank is achieving a soft landing. David Russell at TradeStation says Fed Chair Jerome Powell “can give himself a pat on the back as Goldilocks takes over.”

“It is hard to argue that the economy isn’t strong,” said Chris Zaccarelli at Independent Advisor Alliance. “The stock market will continue to rally as long as the economy stays out of recession and consumers continue to spend – and that is even without the Fed cutting rates. However, if the Fed starts cutting rates, that will be an additional tailwind to this market, which continues to surprise to the upside.”

The market’s resilience suggests that investors are satisfied to see US data resilience despite elevated rates, according to Fawad Razaqzada at City Index and They are confident that peak rates have been reached, and policy will eventually loosen — albeit a bit later than initially expected, he added.

The S&P 500 finished at an all-time high for the first time in two years on Friday, marking a crucial milestone in the resurgence of the US stock market. It’s been a dizzying stretch for equities, triggered by falling inflation and the possibility that the Fed will cut rates in 2024.

With only a few days left for the end of January, the S&P 500 has already blown past the Wall Street consensus over where the index will finish the year. On Wednesday, the gauge surpassed 4,867, the average level where forecasters in a Bloomberg survey pegged it 11 months from now.

With the US stock market at a record, the obvious question for many investors right now is how much firepower is left in the rally that began last year. Whenever the S&P 500 has climbed from a bear market to new heights, returns in the subsequent six and 12 months have been handily above average, Bloomberg Intelligence data going back to 1950 showed.

BI’s analysis of market performance after the US stock benchmark hit a fresh high found the median forward six-month return was roughly 9.2%, above the median 6.3% return for all half-year periods going back more than 70 years. The same pattern is seen in forward 12-month performance, with median returns at 15% after a new all-time high versus just 13% in overlapping yearlong time frames.

“The prevailing trend is undeniably bullish, and the markets are currently adhering to a ‘buy-the-dip’ mentality, at least for the time being,” Razaqzada added. “However, there are signs that the rally may be stretching thin at these levels. So, there is the potential for some profit-taking around current levels.”

Elsewhere, oil rose to the highest in about two months as US inventories, Chinese stimulus and an attack on a Russian refinery ignited a rush of trend-following algorithmic buying.

Corporate Highlights:

  • Alphabet Inc., Inc. and Microsoft Corp. must provide information to the US Federal Trade Commission on their investments and partnerships with artificial intelligence startups Anthropic PBC and OpenAI Inc. as part of an agency study announced Thursday.
  • Apple Inc. is embarking on a historic overhaul of its iOS, Safari and App Store offerings in the European Union, aiming to placate regulators set to impose tough new antitrust rules.
  • Microsoft Corp. will lay off 1,900 people across its video-game divisions including at Activision Blizzard, which it purchased for $69 billion in an acquisition that closed late last year.
  • The chorus of Boeing Co. critics grew louder as more top airline executives called out the planemaker over a series of quality lapses that have grounded aircraft and upended the operations of numerous carriers.
  • T-Mobile US Inc. reported gains in mobile subscribers in the fourth quarter, joining rivals in finding new customers in the saturated and competitive wireless market.
  • American Airlines Group Inc. expects profit this year to beat Wall Street’s estimates as it benefits from strength in demand for international flights and improved operating performance.
  • LVMH sales rose at the end of last year as wealthy shoppers treated themselves to the group’s pricey handbags and Champagne, a sign of resilience at the world’s largest luxury conglomerate.

Key events this week:

  • Japan Tokyo CPI, Friday
  • Bank of Japan issues minutes of policy meeting, Friday
  • US personal income/spending, PCE deflator, pending home sales, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 4 p.m. New York time
  • The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.1%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6%
  • The MSCI World index rose 0.3%


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
  • The euro fell 0.4% to $1.0839
  • The British pound fell 0.2% to $1.2705
  • The Japanese yen fell 0.2% to 147.74 per dollar


  • Bitcoin rose 0.3% to $39,891.13
  • Ether rose 0.6% to $2,228.35


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined five basis points to 4.12%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield declined five basis points to 2.29%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield declined three basis points to 3.98%


  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.9% to $77.25 a barrel
  • Spot gold rose 0.3% to $2,019.19 an ounce

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

--With assistance from Alexandra sem*nova, Rheaa Rao and Liz Capo McCormick.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

As an expert in financial markets and economic analysis, I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to decipher the complexities of the article dated January 25, 2024. My understanding is rooted in a deep comprehension of various financial instruments, economic indicators, and market dynamics. Let me provide you with a breakdown of the key concepts and insights embedded in this article.

  1. Market Sentiment and All-Time Highs:

    • The article opens with Wall Street traders pushing stocks to another all-time high. This indicates a bullish sentiment in the market.
    • Speculation surrounds the Federal Reserve's ability to engineer a soft landing for the US economy, with a focus on its resilience and signs of cooling inflation.
  2. Equity Performance:

    • The S&P 500 closed near 4,900, marking its sixth straight day of gains.
    • Individual stock movements include International Business Machines Corp. surging on a bullish outlook, while Tesla Inc. faced a decline.
  3. Interest Rates and Monetary Policy:

    • US 10-year yields slid to 4.12%, and swap contracts indicate a fully priced-in Fed reduction in May.
    • The article suggests that the market interprets President Christine Lagarde's comments on the European Central Bank possibly lowering rates as an indication of earlier moves.
  4. Economic Data and GDP Growth:

    • The US economy's fourth-quarter growth surpassed forecasts, increasing at a 3.3% annualized rate.
    • The article mentions a survey indicating a decrease in recession expectations and positive outlooks for 2024 real GDP growth.
  5. Inflation and Consumer Spending:

    • Underlying inflation rose 2% for a second straight quarter, contributing to strong consumer spending.
    • Analysts, including Rob Swanke and Callie Cox, discuss the impact of this data on the Federal Reserve's stance and the possibility of a soft landing.
  6. Stock Market Resilience and Investor Confidence:

    • The S&P 500 finished at an all-time high, surpassing Wall Street consensus.
    • Investor confidence is attributed to the resilience of US data despite elevated rates, with a belief that peak rates have been reached.
  7. Market Analysis and Potential Risks:

    • Bloomberg Intelligence's analysis suggests a historically bullish trend following new all-time highs, with potential for profit-taking at current levels.
    • Other corporate highlights include developments in major tech companies, layoffs at Microsoft Corp., and concerns about Boeing Co.'s quality lapses.
  8. Global Economic Indicators:

    • Key global economic events are mentioned, such as LVMH sales rising, T-Mobile's gains in mobile subscribers, and American Airlines Group Inc.'s positive profit expectations.
  9. Market Moves and Currency Exchange Rates:

    • The article provides information on major market moves, currency exchange rates (Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, euro, British pound, Japanese yen), and cryptocurrency prices (Bitcoin, Ether).
  10. Bonds and Commodities:

    • Bond yields, including 10-year Treasuries, Germany's 10-year yield, and Britain's 10-year yield, are discussed.
    • Commodities, such as West Texas Intermediate crude and spot gold, experienced notable movements.
  11. Upcoming Events:

    • The article concludes with a mention of key events scheduled for the week, including Japan Tokyo CPI, Bank of Japan policy meeting minutes, and US economic indicators.

In summary, my expertise allows me to interpret the intricacies of the financial markets and economic trends discussed in this article, providing a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing current market dynamics.

Stocks Climb as Soft-Landing Chorus Grows Louder: Markets Wrap (2024)
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