Sunday April 21st, 2024 10:23AM

Stock market today: Wall Street futures rise ahead of busy week of economic data releases

By The Associated Press

Wall Street pointed higher early Monday as markets prepare to absorb a slew of high-profile economic data this week.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 each rose about 0.3% before the bell.

Economic reports coming this week include trade, jobless claims, vehicle sales, and the government's comprehensive March jobs report.

The U.S. stock market has been on a hot streak since late October, and the S&P 500 just capped its fifth straight winning month. It has leaped as the U.S. economy has remained remarkably solid despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control.

And with inflation hopefully still cooling from its peak, the Federal Reserve has indicated it will likely cut interest rates several times later this year.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Friday reiterated that the central bank expects to cut interest rates this year, but won’t be ready to do so until it sees evidence that annual price increases are falling toward its 2% target. Powell will speak publicly again on Wednesday at Stanford University.

The Fed responded to sizzling pandemic-induced inflation by aggressively raising its benchmark rate beginning in March 2022. Eventually, it would raise its key rate 11 times to a 23-year high of around 5.4%. The resulting higher borrowing costs helped bring inflation down — from a peak of 9.1% in June 2022 to 3.2% last month. But year-over-year price increases still remain above the Fed’s 2% target.

In corporate news, UPS shares rose 2% after the package delivery company said it will become the primary air cargo provider for the United States Postal Service, significantly expanding an existing partnership between the two. Shares of FedEx, UPS's chief rival, fell 1.9% before the bell Monday.

Asian shares were mixed on Monday, with Shanghai gaining 1% after surveys showed improvements in manufacturing conditions in China.

Sydney and Hong Kong were closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.4%, to 39,803.09, after a Bank of Japan quarterly survey on business conditions showed sentiment among large manufacturers, which include auto and electronics giants, declined in March for the first time in a year.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 1.2% to 3,077.38.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics released survey data on Sunday that showed the country’s official manufacturing PMI, or purchasing managers index, coming in at 50.8 in March, its strongest reading since March 2023.

A similar but separate survey, the Caixin/S&P Global China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, was 51.1 in March — its strongest since February 2023. It was at 50.9 in February. The rankings are on a scale of up to 100, where 50 marks the cutoff between expansion and contraction.

“Chinese manufacturers increased production, while also raising their purchasing levels amid improved optimism,” the report said.

“A slew of policies introduced earlier this year to stabilize growth are gradually having an effect," Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, said in a statement.

China's target for “about 5%” economic growth is “ambitious,” he said. Given pressures that are constraining employment and keeping prices low, efforts will be needed to make growth more efficient and improve its quality, he added.

The World Bank released a report forecasting that economies in developing countries of East Asia and the Pacific will grow 4.5% this year, down from 5.1% in 2023. It estimates that China’s economy will expand at a 4.5% annual pace this year, down from 5.2% in 2023.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi edged less than 0.1% higher, to 2,747.86 and the Sensex in India was up 0.5%. In Bangkok, the SET rose 0.1%.

In other trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 151.38 Japanese yen from 151.29 yen. The euro edged lower, to $1.0784 from $1.0794.

U.S. benchmark crude oil shed 11 cents to $83.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was up $1.82 per barrel on Thursday, before markets closed for Good Friday and Easter.

Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 16 cents to $86.84 per barrel. On Thursday, it surged $1.59 to $87.00 per barrel.

Markets in the U.S. and Europe were closed on Friday. European markets will remain closed Monday, while U.S. markets will reopen.

On Thursday, Wall Street coasted to its latest winning month and quarter by rising to more records. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%, adding to its all-time high set the day before.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 0.1% to 39,807.37 and likewise set a record. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.1% to 16,379.46.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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