US tech stocks saw gains on Thursday ahead of the release of quarterly figures by multiple Big Tech companies. Tech stocks shot up in after-hour trading following earnings reports released after the bell. In Asia, stocks were mixed during the last session of the week. Oil dropped following reports that a ceasefire was becoming likely in the war in Gaza.
In New York, stock indices jumped with the Dow Jones Industrial closing at an all-time high, up about 1% at 38,519 points. The S&P 500 gained 1.3% and the Nasdaq-100 finished up 1.2%. Big Tech stocks were finally being rewarded this earning season after other tech giants, such as Microsoft and Alphabet, were punished following earnings releases earlier in the week. Facebook parent Meta closed up 1.2% on Thursday and rallied more than 15% in after-hour trading. Amazon gained 2.9% during the session and another almost 7% after hours. Apple, however, reversed its 1.3% gain during the day to lost 2.9% after the close. Altogether the numbers released after the bell on Thursday looked solid with Meta’s profit tripling from a year earlier. Amazon made a profit of more than USD 30 billion for the full year. The market reactions following the earnings reports were the opposite of what happened to Microsoft and Alphabet stock earlier this week. Those companies’ figures were also considered to be generally solid but failed to meet investors’ lofty expectations on revenue generated from artificial intelligence.
Wall Street’s positive sentiment spilled over to some markets in the Asia-Pacific region on Friday. South Korea’s Kospi was leading gains, up 2.9% after the country’s Consumer Price Index came in lower than economists’ expectations at 2.8%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5%, despite the country’s Producer Price Index picking up to 4.1% on the year in the fourth quarter. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 lost 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was trading just marginally in positive territory, while the Shanghai Composite lost almost 1%.
The OPEC+ group of oil-exporting are planning to maintain reductions to the amount of oil their countries produce for this quarter in an effort to prop up energy prices. Oil prices were trading higher immediately after the news reports on Thursday but fell quickly following other reports about progress on a possible ceasefire in the war in Gaza. Friday, West Text Intermediate was trading below USD 74 and Brent below USD 79 per barrel.
In central bank news, the Bank of England left its key rate unchanged at 5.25% but lowered its inflation outlook for the year. It became the next central bank to begin publicly discussing the possibility of interest rate cuts. Sweden’s Riksbank took similar measures on Thursday, keeping its benchmark interest rate at 4% and saying that cuts are possible by June as long as inflation continues to decelerate. A day earlier the Federal Reserve also kept rates unchanged and discussed timing of potential rate cuts.
Inflation in the euro area was down to 2.8% on an annual basis in January. Core inflation - which strips out volatile energy and food prices - came in at 3.3%. Both numbers were slightly ahead of economists’ expectations. The European Central Bank has started to talk about interest rate cuts this year but is seeking more confidence that inflation will fall below its 2% target before beginning to lower rates. Market reacted little to the inflation data with the Euro Stoxx 50 closing 0.5% lower.
Corporate news in focus: Quarterly figures from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron, ExxonMobil, UniCredit.
Economic data in focus: US nonfarm payrolls, University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index.
Publisher: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., Glärnischstrasse 36, CH-8027 Zurich
Editor: Alessandro Fezzi
Source: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd.