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01/02/24 Briefing

US stocks pressed higher on Thursday after the worst sell-off in months on Wall Street, as investors recalibrated their timeline for rate cuts from the Federal Reserve and prepared for a heavy-hitting round of mega-cap tech earnings.

The benchmark S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 1.2%, while the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) gained almost 1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC), which suffered a more than 2% decline Wednesday, led the gains on Thursday rising 1.3%.

The financial world is moving fast and furious this week, but the Fed remained the focus Thursday morning. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, while cementing a pivot in the central bank's rate plans, gave investors looking for quick interest rate cuts a wake-up call. He hinted that he views it unlikely that the bank would begin to cut rates at the Fed's next meeting in March, something that was viewed largely as a toss-up earlier this week.

Indeed, according to the CME FedWatch tool, investors were pricing in about a two-thirds chance of another hold at the March meeting, while almost all bets are on a small — or larger — cut come May.

Meanwhile, members of the "Magnificent Seven" took center stage after the closing bell, with Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and Meta (META) all reporting earnings.

Shares of Meta skyrocketed more than 12% after hours as the company topped Wall Street's earnings estimates, issued a $50 billion share buyback, and announced a $0.50 cash dividend. Amazon stock also gained, adding more more than 4% in post-market trade, after the company reported fourth quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations and delivered an optimistic outlook for the months ahead.

Additionally, Apple's revenue topped Wall Street's estimates but concerns over slowing sales growth in China appeared to weigh on shares ahead of the company's earnings call.

This marked a reversal from Tuesday's first batch of Big Tech results from Microsoft (MSFT) and Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG) which failed to live up to investors' lofty expectations, helping send those stocks lower.

Lest we forget, the economic world has one more narrative-fueling data point waiting this week. Investors will get a snapshot of January's job market with Friday's nonfarm payrolls report.

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