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Stocks Slide in Today's Afternoon Trading Session

Barchart - Thu Apr 4, 10:25AM CDT

The S&P 500 Index ($SPX) (SPY) is down -0.78%, the Dow Jones Industrials Index ($DOWI) (DIA) is down -1.02%, and the Nasdaq 100 Index ($IUXX) (QQQ) is down -0.81%.

Stocks are lower this afternoon, after rallying in the morning. Rising oil prices are a cause of concern for investors and the fear that the Federal Reserve may look to hold off on reducing interest rates.

This morning, the US weekly initial unemployment claims rose +9,000 to a 2-month high of 221,000, showing a weaker labor market than expectations of 214,000.

The US Feb trade deficit of -$68.9 billion was wider than expectations of -$67.6 billion and was the largest deficit in 10 months, a negative factor for Q1 GDP.

In a hawkish comment, Philadelphia Fed President Harker said, "We're not where we need to be; inflation is still too high."

The markets are discounting the chances for a -25 bp rate cut at 7% for the next FOMC meeting on April 30-May 1 and 64% for the following meeting on June 11-12.

Overseas stock markets today are higher.  The Euro Stoxx 50 is up +0.14%.  China's Shanghai Composite was closed for the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.  Japan's Nikkei Stock Index closed up +0.81%.

Interest Rates

June 10-year T-notes (ZNM24) this morning are up +3 ticks.  The 10-year T-note yield is down -1.6 bp at 4.331%. June T-note prices today recovered from early losses and are slightly higher.  Short-covering emerged in T-notes this morning after weekly US initial unemployment claims rose more than expected to a 2-month high, a dovish factor for Fed policy. Also, today’s increase in the US Feb trade deficit to a 10-month high was negative for Q1 GDP and supportive for T-notes. 

In a bearish factor for T-note prices, Philadelphia Fed President Harker said, “Inflation is still too high.”  Also, the strength of stocks today is reducing safe-haven demand for government debt. 

European government bond yields today are lower.  The 10-year German bund yield is down -4.3 bp at 2.353%. The 10-year UK gilt yield is down -4.5 bp at 4.010%.

Eurozone Feb PPI fell -1.0% m/m and -8.3% y/y, weaker than Jan’s -0.9% m/m and -8.0% y/y.

The Eurozone Mar S&P Composite PMI was revised upward by +0.4 to 50.3 from 49.9, the highest level in 10 months.

In the account of the March 6-7 ECB meeting, ECB officials said, "While it was wise to await incoming data and evidence, the case for considering rate cuts was strengthening," and the date of a first rate-cut is now "coming more clearly into view."

US Stock Movers

Conagra Brands (CAG) is up more than +5% to lead gainers in the S&P 500 after reporting Q3 adjusted operating margin of 16.4%, better than the consensus of 15.7%, and raising its full-year operating margin estimate to 15.8% from a prior view of 15.6%. 

The strength of chip stocks is boosting the overall market as analysts see limited impact on the semiconductor market from Taiwan’s recent earthquake.  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which supplies chips to Apple and Nvidia, said there was “no damage to critical tools.”  As a result, GlobalFoundries (GFS) is up more than +2%.  Also, Broadcom (AVGO), Microchip Technology (MCHP), ON Semiconductor (ON), Analog Devices (ADI), Marvel Technology (MRVL), and NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) are up more than +1%. 

Wayfair (W) is up more than +3% after Evercore ISI upgraded the stock to outperform from in line with a price target of $80. 

Synchrony Financial (SYF) is up more than +1% after Wolfe Research upgraded the stock to outperform from underperform with a price target of $50.

Microsoft (MSFT) is up more than +1% after Cloud Software Group signed an eight-year partnership agreement with Microsoft and said it will make a $1.65 billion commitment to the Microsoft cloud and its generative AI capabilities.

Levi Strauss & Co (LEVI) is up more than +15% after reporting Q1 adjusted EPS of 26 cents, stronger than the consensus of 21 cents, and raising its full-year adjusted EPS estimate to $1.17-$1.27 from a previous estimate of $1.15-$1.25. 

Staar Surgical (STAA) is up more than +14% after reporting preliminary Q1 net sales of $77 million, above the consensus of $72.1 million. 

MacroGenics (MGNX) is up more than +31% after Stifel said preliminary safety data from a mid-stage trial of MacroGenics’ Tamarack drug for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer appears to be a “better/best-case scenario.” 

Lamb Weston Holdings (LW) is down more than -18% to lead losers in the S&P 500 after reporting Q3 net sales of $1.46 billion, below the consensus of $1.65 billion, and cut its full-year net sales estimate to $6.54 billion-$6.60 billion from a previous forecast of $6.8 billion-$7.0 billion. 

Paramount Global (PARA) is down more than -8% after several analysts expressed doubt about the company’s potential deal to merge with Skydance Media. 

Salesforce (CRM) is down more than -1% to lead losers in the Dow Jones Industrials on signs of insider selling after an SEC filing showed CEO Benioff sold $4.51 million of shares on Tuesday.

Alphabet (GOOGL) is down nearly -1% after the Financial Times reported the company is considering charging for new “premium” features run by artificial intelligence.

Block (SQ) is down more than -2% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to underweight from equal weight with a price target of $60. 

Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ) is down more than -5% after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to sell from neutral with a price target of $7. 

Radian Group (RDN) and MGIC Investment Corp (MTG) are down more than -2% after Keefe, Bruyette & Woods downgraded the mortgage insurers to market perform from outperform.

Earnings Reports (4/4/2024)

Conagra Brands Inc (CAG), Lamb Weston Holdings Inc (LW), NET Lease Office Properties (NLOP), and RPM International Inc (RPM).

More Stock Market News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

Provided Content: Content provided by Barchart. The Globe and Mail was not involved, and material was not reviewed prior to publication.

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