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S&P 500 Races Toward 30th All-Time High of 2024: Markets Wrap

In Business
June 17, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Stocks headed toward fresh all-time highs as big tech rallied despite a jump in Treasury yields, with traders gearing up for a reading on retail sales and a slew of Federal Reserve speakers.

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The S&P 500 was set to close with its 30th record this year, though many analysts remained concerned about narrow market breadth. Some Wall Street strategists rushed to raise their targets even as many hedge funds grow increasingly cautious. Treasuries trimmed their June rally amid a flurry of corporate-debt sales. Home Depot Inc. is selling $10 billion worth of bonds in the high-grade market.

Optimism over a resilient economy, improving corporate earnings and the potential start of rate cuts have pushed equities up about 15% this year, with ebbing inflation and the artificial-intelligence fervor also propeling equities higher.

“We believe the S&P 500 can reach 6,000 by year-end as the combination of better earnings and one or two rate cuts is like a turbo booster for stock prices,” said James Demmert at Main Street Research.

The S&P 500 rose to around 5,480, with Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. leading gains in megacaps. The Nasdaq 100 rose about 1.5% and approached the 20,000 mark. Micron Technology Inc. climbed to a record after some firms raised their targets for the chipmaker. Broadcom Inc. jumped 6%. Activist investor Starboard Value said it’s built a stake in Autodesk Inc. valued at more than $500 million.

French stocks rebounded after last week’s tumble. Yet the Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed as Citigroup Inc. downgraded the region’s equities, citing “heightened political risks” among other reasons.

Citigroup strategists raised their 2024 forecast for the S&P 500 to 5,600, becoming the third Wall Street firm since Friday to upgrade its outlook. Ongoing positive earnings revisions and broadening of profit growth to non-tech S&P 500 companies prompted the target upgrade, Citi strategists led by Scott Chronert wrote.

In recent days, Julian Emanuel at Evercore raised his year-end forecast on the S&P 500 to 6,000, the highest among major equity strategists tracked by Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. strategists led by David Kostin boosted their target to 5,600, reflecting Wall Street’s optimistic outlook for earnings growth and the US economy.

Meantime, hedge funds decreased their long-short gross leverage, which measures their overall exposure to the market, by the most since March 2022, according to a note from Goldman Sachs’s prime brokerage desk. The move points to a more cautious stance from the so-called smart money, the team wrote.

While there’s been no shortage of headlines about the latest record highs on the S&P 500, the highs have been less significant as a sign of market strength than as an influence on investor sentiment, according to Tim Hayes at Ned Davis Research.

“As record highs were reached by major benchmarks, breadth has weakened,” he said. “Benchmark records are not confirmed by most markets, sectors and stocks.”

In the run-up to the latest reading on retail sales, traders also kept an eye on Fedspeak.

Fed Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said he sees one rate cut as appropriate for this year based on his current forecast, underscoring the message that high rates are likely to persist.

Investors are being warned that rates will stay higher for longer than they’d expected, with the median projection from Fed officials calling for one interest rate cut this year. And yet cash is pouring into stocks that benefit from lower borrowing costs.

The question now for investors is what will the market do when the Fed eventually does decide to cut? Historically, rate cuts have marked a key inflection point that has ushered in strong equity returns — but only for cycles that aren’t triggered by a recession, like this one.

“Improving inflation trends would lead to a more constructive policy outlook, which should be a tailwind for equities and fixed income,” said Jason Pride and Michael Reynolds at Glenmede. “Assuming all continues to go well with inflation along a moderating path through the summer, a September rate cut is likely on the table.”

Some stock-market optimists have speculated that a swath of the roughly $6 trillion sitting in money-market cash is poised to be reallocated into equities and will give the rally another boost.

But a growing number of soothsayers at firms ranging from Morgan Stanley to Deutsche Bank AG are poking holes in that theory. With generous yields on cash amid elevated interest rates, it’s no surprise that inflows to money market funds just hit another all-time high. Yet, there’s little evidence to suggest that cash is going to move into riskier assets anytime soon.

“Choppiness and a flight to quality are likely to dominate the markets until the Fed clarifies the scope and timing of rate cuts,” said Robert Teeter at Silvercrest Asset Management. “This guidance may come as early as the Jackson Hole event in August.”

Many stocks are now becoming more sensitive to softer growth conditions, according to Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson. They say some value/cyclical stocks have started to focus more on earnings expectations and less on the impact of interest rates

“This development is in line with our consistent view that higher rates are a clear headwind to small caps, but lower rates don’t offer a comparable benefit,” they wrote.

The correlation between stock prices and bond yields continues to invert and is the most negative since 1997, suggesting a major shift in the inflation regime is likely underway and that stock prices and bond yields may together remain subject to extreme sensitivity to inflation trends, according to according to Bloomberg Intelligence strategists led by Gina Martin Adams.

“The correlation between the two asset classes was positive for the better part of 20 years, suggesting disinflation was the dominant regime,” they said. “The positive correlation historically implied that equities trended in the direction of yields as inflation mostly coincided with growth.”

The shift in the correlation to negative might be signaling a significant longer-term change in inflation conditions has begun, the BI strategists noted. Stocks held a negative correlation to yields throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s, when inflation hurt equities.

Corporate Highlights:

  • Tesla Inc. has been granted approval to test its advanced driver-assistance system on some Shanghai streets, according to a person familiar with the matter — the next step in rolling out the feature to Chinese drivers.

  • The US Federal Trade Commission sued Adobe Inc., alleging the software company violated consumer protection laws by making it too difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions.

  • As crisis engulfs Boeing Co. following the near-catastrophic accident on an airborne 737 Max 9 aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun has kept a low profile in recent months. A Senate hearing on Tuesday will put him on the spot to defend his record and salvage his legacy as he prepares to step down later this year.

  • Walt Disney Co.’s Deadpool & Wolverine will hit Chinese theaters next month, a win for the studio after Beijing barred previous blockbuster releases at a time of frosty relations with the US.

  • Cybercriminals are demanding payments of between $300,000 and $5 million apiece from as many as 10 companies breached in a campaign that targeted Snowflake Inc. customers, according to a security firm helping with the investigation.

  • GameStop Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ryan Cohen told investors he’s focused on achieving profitability at the ailing video game retailer and plans to avoid the “hype” that has buffeted the shares to extremes as part of the meme-stock frenzy.

Key events this week:

  • Australia rate decision, Tuesday

  • Eurozone CPI, Tuesday

  • US retail sales, business inventories, industrial production, Tuesday

  • Fed’s Thomas Barkin, Lorie Logan, Adriana Kugler, Alberto Musalem, Austan Goolsbee speak, Tuesday

  • UK CPI, Wednesday

  • US Juneteenth holiday, Wednesday

  • China loan prime rates, Thursday

  • Eurozone consumer confidence, Thursday

  • UK BOE rate decision, Thursday

  • US housing starts, initial jobless claims, Thursday

  • Eurozone S&P Global Manufacturing PMI, S&P Global Services PMI, Friday

  • US existing home sales, Conf. Board leading index, Friday

  • Fed’s Thomas Barkin speaks, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 rose 0.9% as of 2:55 p.m. New York time

  • The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.4%

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5%

  • The MSCI World Index rose 0.6%


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed

  • The euro rose 0.3% to $1.0736

  • The British pound rose 0.1% to $1.2706

  • The Japanese yen fell 0.2% to 157.71 per dollar


  • Bitcoin rose 0.7% to $66,959.82

  • Ether fell 1.2% to $3,554.94


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced six basis points to 4.28%

  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced five basis points to 2.41%

  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced six basis points to 4.11%


  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.5% to $80.40 a barrel

  • Spot gold fell 0.6% to $2,318.02 an ounce

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

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