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Equities mixed after Fed minutes while Nvidia lends support

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 01:22, 24 May 2024  
Equities mixed after Fed minutes while Nvidia lends support

Photo: Collected

Asian and European markets diverged Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting indicated officials would keep interest rates elevated for some time as they struggle to bring inflation down to target.

The news, however, was offset slightly by forecast-busting earnings from US tech titan Nvidia that showed profits and revenue soaring, reports BSS/AFP.

Equities have taken a breather after a recent rally driven by data indicating inflation was easing and the jobs market was softening -- fanning hopes the US central bank would begin cutting borrowing costs by September.

However, warnings from a number of decision-makers that they wanted to see more evidence that prices were under control have caused some dealers to rethink.

And confidence took another hit Wednesday when minutes from the Fed's April-May meeting showed policymakers were frustrated with the slow progress in bringing inflation down to their two percent goal.

Consumer price readings above expectations from January to March led them to conclude "it would take longer than previously anticipated" to be confident they were winning their battle, the minutes showed.

They talked about keeping rates at a two-decade high for an extended period "should inflation not show signs of moving sustainably toward two percent or reducing policy restraint in the event of an unexpected weakening in labour market conditions".

Board members also "mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialise in a way that such an action became appropriate", the Fed added.

The minutes "were taken as a little more hawkish than anticipated but were broadly aligned with the recent messaging from Fed officials with generally broad acceptance of the wait and see approach", said National Australia Bank's Taylor Nugent.

HSBC's Ryan Wang added: "It is clear... that the policymakers have a range of views about inflation. Overall, the minutes show that data had not increased the confidence of policymakers."

All three main indexes on Wall Street fell.

Asian markets were mixed, with Hong Kong extending losses to a third consecutive day, having rallied in recent weeks to levels not seen since August, while Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul and Bangkok were also in the red.

But Tokyo, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei, Mumbai and Manila all rose.

London fell, while Paris and Frankfurt edged up.

There was some support for microchip makers from Nvidia's results, which showed it turned a profit of $14.9 billion in the first quarter -- seven times what it made the year before, as revenue quadrupled to $26 billion.

It said second-quarter revenue would hit around $28 billion, which was also above expectations, while announcing a 10-for-1 stock split and a 150 percent bump in its quarterly dividend.

Traders had been keenly awaiting the release as it was seen as a guide to overall market sentiment, with its high-end processors prized by firms looking to get ahead in the booming artificial intelligence sector.

US futures all rose.

The prospect of US rates being held higher for longer put fresh pressure on oil prices, which fell again Thursday, having hit a three-month low Wednesday on data showing US stockpiles jumped last week.

Traders are also keeping tabs on an upcoming meeting of OPEC and other key producers, where they will decide on whether or not to stick with their output cuts.

And gold, which hit a new record $2,450 earlier in the week on rate-cut bets, dropped back to around $2,375.

Walton