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01/04/24 Briefing


US stocks looked set to kick off 2024's second quarter on a high note Monday as investors looked to softening in the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge as a sign of a coming interest rate cut this quarter.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose around 0.3%. The blue-chip Dow Jones was eyeing the key 40,000 mark. Those tied to the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) led the gains, rising about 0.4%.

Wall Street has begun 2024 on a high note: The benchmark S&P 500 has set 22 fresh closing records so far this year as part of its best first quarter since 2019. Meanwhile, all three major averages have now risen for five straight months.

Markets were closed Friday, but the week's data highlight — the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index — served to boost hopes of rate cuts this year. That index contains "core" PCE, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge. The report showed core PCE rose 0.3% month over month, below economist expectations. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Friday that the data was "along the lines" of what the Fed is looking for.

The data has given a boost to investor bets on a June rate cut. According to the CME FedWatch tool, around two-thirds of investors are pricing in a cut at the Fed's June meeting, compared with about 55% last Thursday.

The highlight of Q2's first week on the macroeconomic front is Friday's jobs report, which will serve as another important signal to the Fed.

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