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Beyond the Numbers

Upbeat Chip Sector News May Lead To Continued Tech Rally
4/1/2021 8:58 AM

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a higher open on Friday, with technology stocks once again likely to lead the advance.

Micron Technology (MU) may help lead the tech sector higher, with the chipmaker surging up by 5.2 percent in pre-market trading.

The advance by Micron comes after the company reported better than expected fiscal second quarter results and provided upbeat guidance for the current quarter.

Positive sentiment may also be generated in reaction to news that Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) unveiled capacity expansion plans amid rising chip demand.

Tech stocks may also benefit from a pullback by treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note moving notably lower after ending the previous session at its highest closing level in over a year.

Traders are also reacting to President Joe Biden’s speech regarding his $2 trillion infrastructure and economic recovery plan.

The massive proposal, which would partly paid for by higher corporate taxes, is likely to face intense opposition from Republicans.

Stocks came under pressure going into the close of trading on Wednesday but managed to end the day mostly higher. The tech-heavy Nasdaq posted a particularly strong gain amid a rally by technology stocks.

The Nasdaq jumped 201.48 points or 1.5 percent to 13,246.87 and the S&P 500 rose 14.34 points or 0.4 percent to 3,972.89 after reaching a record intraday high. Meanwhile, the narrower Dow fell 85.41 points or 0.3 percent to 32,981.55.

The rally by technology stocks may partly have reflected window dressing on the final day of the first quarter, as the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed the Dow and the S&P 500 during the first three months of the year.

The advance on the day helped the Nasdaq surge up by 2.8 percent for the quarter, although that compares to a 5.8 percent jump by the S&P 500 and a 7.8 percent spike by the Dow.

The Dow and the S&P 500 have also recently reached new record highs, while the Nasdaq remains well off its highs set in February.

A report from payroll processor ADP showing strong private sector job growth in the month of March also generated some positive sentiment.

ADP said private sector employment surged up by 517,000 jobs in March after climbing by an upwardly revised 176,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected employment to jump by 550,000 jobs compared to the addition of 117,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The increase in private sector employment in March reflected the strongest job growth since the spike of 821,000 jobs seen last September.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly jobs report, which includes both public and private sector jobs.

Economists currently expect employment to jump by 639,000 jobs in March after climbing by 379,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 6.0 percent from 6.2 percent.

Meanwhile, traders were also reacting to the details of President Joe Biden's infrastructure and economic recovery plan.

The plan calls for spending approximately $2 trillion over eight years, with the proposal including investments in transportation infrastructure and accelerating the transition to clean energy.

To pay for the plan, Biden has called for raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, which is likely to face intense opposition from Republican lawmakers.

Semiconductor stocks turned in some of the market's best performances on the day, resulting in a 2.6 percent spike by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in a month.

Biotechnology, software and computer hardware stocks also saw notable strength on the day, contributing to the surge by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Considerable strength was also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. Gold stocks rebounded along with the price of the precious metal.

On the other hand, airline stocks gave back ground after Tuesday's rally, resulting in a 1.2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Airline.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are climbing $0.47 to $59.63 a barrel after tumbling $1.39 to $59.16 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after spiking $29.60 to $1,715.60 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are rising $2.70 to $1,718.30 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.69 yen versus the 110.72 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1743 compared to yesterday’s $1.1730.

Asia

Asian shares advanced on Thursday after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan to reshape the world's largest economy and counter the rise of China.

"It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America," Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh about his "American Jobs Plan."

With much of the Asia Pacific on holiday on Friday, trading activity was somewhat muted.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 24.42 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,466.33, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 560.39 points, or 2 percent, to 28,938.74.

The manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in March, albeit at a slightly slower pace, the latest survey from Caixin showed today, with a seasonally adjusted manufacturing PMI score of 50.6, down from 50.9 in February.

Japanese shares advanced on the back of upbeat economic data and hopes for corporate earnings. Economic optimism prevailed after a survey showed the manufacturing sector in Japan expanded at a faster pace in March.

Large manufacturing in Japan saw some improvement in the first quarter of 2021, the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan Survey of business sentiment showed, with a diffusion index score of +5, beating forecasts for a reading of 0.

The Nikkei 225 Index advanced 210.07 points, or 0.7 percent, to 29,388.87, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,957.64.

Semiconductor-related companies gained ground after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology forecast third-quarter revenue above analysts' forecasts. Advantest jumped 4.1 percent, Tokyo Electron surged 4.7 percent and Screen Holdings added 6.1 percent.

Australian shares advanced after data showed home prices in the country rose at the fastest pace in three decades in March and February retail sales fell less than expected.

Adding to investor optimism over growth, the manufacturing sector in Australia expanded at a faster pace in March, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 38 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,828.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 47.20 points, or 0.7 percent, at 7,064.20.

Tech stocks rallied, with Xero, WiseTech Global, Appen and Afterpay climbing 2-4 percent. An increase in Chinese iron ore futures helped lift miners, with BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rising between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent.

Banks eked out modest gains despite regulatory concerns. Wealth manager AMP surged 4.7 percent after replacing its chief executive. Macquarie Group dropped half a percent after the prudential regulator ordered the company's banking unit to increase its cash reserves.

Travel booking group Webjet plunged 5.4 percent after it raised $250 million through a convertible note offering to fund acquisitions.

Seoul stocks rose notably after data showed exports expanded for a fifth straight month and the manufacturing sector in the country continued to expand at a steady pace in March.

The benchmark Kospi jumped 25.98 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,087.40, driven by gains in chip heavyweights. Samsung Electronics gained 1.8 percent and SK Hynix soared 6 percent.

Europe

European stocks have advanced on Thursday after U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $2.3 trillion spending plan that includes investments in roads, railways, broadband, clean energy and semiconductor manufacturing.

Strong factory activity data out of the euro zone and the U.K. has also boosted hopes for a swift economic recovery.

While the French CAC 40 Index has risen by 0.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.5 percent.

Infineon Technologies and BE Semiconductor have risen after TSMC, the world's largest manufacturer of advanced semiconductors, unveiled capacity expansion plans and U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology forecast third-quarter revenue above analysts' forecasts.

Swiss lender Credit Suisse has also climbed but is on track for its worst week since March 2020 after warning of a multi-billion dollar loss from the Archegos debacle.

Delivery Hero shares have also jumped after Dutch tech investment company Prosus NV raised its stake in the online food ordering company.

Aareal Bank has also shown a notable move to the upside after Petrus Advisers increased its shareholding in the banking company.

Vinci has also surged. The French construction company has signed an agreement to acquire ACS's energy business as part of its strategic move to create a global player in energy contracting and to develop renewables projects.

Meanwhile, food delivery firm Deliveroo's shares have fallen after plunging by as much as 30 percent in their market debut the previous day.

In economic news, the euro area manufacturing sector grew at the strongest pace in nearly 24 years of data collection, underpinned by strong production and orders, final data from IHS Markit showed.

The final factory Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 62.5 in March from 57.9 in February. The flash reading was 62.4. Growth was broad-based across the region, with Germany and the Netherlands leading the way.

In the U.K., IHS Markit's closely watched purchasing managers' index (PMI) scored 58.9 in March — a 121-month high and ahead of forecasts.

German retail sales grew for the first time in three months in February, but the pace of expansion was slower than economists' expected, data from Destatis revealed.

Retail sales rose 1.2 percent month-on-month in February, reversing a 6.5 percent drop in January. Economists had forecast sales to grow at a faster pace of 2 percent. This was the first increase in three months.

U.S. Economic Reports

A day ahead of the release of the more closely watched monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rebounded from their lowest level in a year in the week ended March 27th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 719,000, an increase of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 658,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 680,000 from the 684,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The downwardly revised number of claims in the previous week was the lowest since the week ended March 14, 2020, just before the start of the coronavirus lockdowns.

At 10 am ET, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its report on manufacturing activity in the month of March.

Economists expect the ISM’s manufacturing PMI to inch up to 61.3 in March from 60.8 in February, with a reading above 50 indicating growth.

The Commerce Department is also due to release its report on construction spending in the month of February at 10 am ET. Construction spending is expected to slump by 1.0 percent.

At 1 pm ET, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker is scheduled to speak virtually on “The Importance of Connecting Community Banks with Fintech Platforms” to the Fintech Partnership Symposium.

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan is due to participate in a moderated conversation on national and global economic issues before the virtual Global Perspectives series at 6:05 pm ET.

Stocks In Focus

Shares of FuboTV (FUBO) are moving sharply higher in pre-market trading after the streaming television service announced an agreement to carry all non-nationally televised regular season Chicago Cubs games.

Chinese electric car maker Nio (NIO) is also likely to see initial strength after revealing it delivered a record 7,257 vehicles in March 2021, representing 373 percent year-over-year growth.

Shares of Guess (GES) may also move to the upside after the clothing company reported fiscal fourth quarter adjusted earnings that exceeded analyst estimates.

On the other hand, shares of CarMax (KMX) are seeing notable pre-market weakness after the auto retailer reported its fiscal fourth results and announced an agreement to acquire the remaining stake in auto information provider Edmunds.
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