As the first quarter closes Wall Street aims for the 40,000 Dow mark

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Wall Street heads into the short trading week ahead of the long Easter break - and the final four trading sessions of the first quarter of 2024, with traders eyeing the 40,000 mark for the Dow

That was after the Dow slipped on Friday, but clinched its best week of the year after back-to-back record-setting sessions.

With the quarter ending on Easter Sunday, March 31, the trading week and quarter ends Thursday and resumes Monday (when it is a holiday in Australia, NZ and much of Europe).

The Dow dipped 305.47 points, or 0.77%, to close at 39,475.90 on Friday The broader S&P 500 dipped by 0.14% to end at 5,234.18 but all those techs on the Nasdaq saw it add 0.16% and close at 16,428.82 for another record.

All three major averages notched healthy gains last week, with the S&P 500 rising about 2.3%. The Dow was up just shy of 2% - its strongest week this year while the Nasdaq of course outperformed jumping nearly 2.9%.

One reason for the market optimism stems from this week’s Federal Reserve meeting. The central bank left rates unchanged, and commentary from Fed Chair Jerome Powell reinforced the idea that cuts are coming despite a recent bout of warmish inflation readings that led some investors to fear a postponement.

At the same time the ructions caused in Asia and Europe from the surprise rate cut by the Swiss National Bank had little impact on Wall Street optimism though gold and copper were shaken.

The ASX is looking at a small rise when trading resumes later Monday morning -the futures market was showing a 7 point gain on Saturday morning, our time.

Friday saw the ASX lose ground, ending down 11 points for the session - but it was down 38 points earlier in the day.

The Hong Kong market’s Hang Seng index fell more than 2.1% and mainland markets were in the red as well by around 1%.

The biggest move was the slump by China’s yuan with fell below the 7.2 to the US dollar level, long seen as a rate which the government defends.

Reuters reported Friday afternoon that at major state-owned banks were seen selling dollars on Friday in an attempt to arrest weakness in the yuan after it slumped to the lowest level in more than four months.

Chinese state banks quickly stepped into the market to actively sell greenbacks to support the yuan it dipped under the important 7.2 per dollar level to lows of 7.24, the sources said. It bottomed out at 7.2399 yuan to the dollar, according to Reuters.

The onshore yuan trimmed losses and last traded at 7.2228 per dollar Friday afternoon. That will be watched this morning when the people’s Bank sets the early rate.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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