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US stock futures inch lower, PCE inflation test looms this week

Investing.com– U.S. stock index futures fell slightly in evening deals on Sunday after fears of high interest rates saw volatile swings on Wall Street, with focus this week turning to key PCE inflation data for more cues on rates. 

Trading volumes were muted ahead of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday.

S&P 500 Futures fell 0.1% to 5,316.25 points, while Nasdaq 100 Futures fell 0.2% to 18,837.50 points by 19:53 ET (23:3 GMT). Dow Jones Futures fell 0.1% to 39,122.0 points. 

PCE inflation awaited for more rate cues

PCE price index data- which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge- is due this Friday. 

While the reading is expected to show some cooling in personal spending and consumption, it also comes after a string of warnings from the Fed that sticky inflation will delay any potential interest rate cuts this year. 

These warnings saw investors steadily price out expectations for a rate cut in September, which was initially pegged as the point when the Fed will begin loosening policy. The CME Fedwatch tool now shows investors pricing in a greater chance that the Fed will keep rates steady in September.

Wall Street sees increased volatility near record highs

Wall Street indexes clocked some record highs last week on support from positive earnings, particularly from market darling NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).

This helped the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite also clock a record-high close on Friday. It also marked some gains last week. 

But most other stock sectors fell, with the S&P 500 andDow Jones Industrial Average seeing a mixed weekly performance. 

While the S&P ended last week largely flat, the Dow, which is seen as more economically sensitive, fell more than 2%. 

The S&P 500 ended up 0.7% at 5,304.72 points on Friday, while the Nasdaq closed up 1.1% at a record high of 16,920.79 points. The Dow ended flat at 39,069.59 points.


Israeli airstrikes kill at least 35 in Rafah, say Gaza authorities; Israel says struck Hamas commander

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO (Reuters) -Israeli air strikes killed at least 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens in an area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah designated for the displaced, Palestinian health and civil emergency service officials said.

The Israeli military said its air force struck a Hamas compound in Rafah and that the strike was carried out with “precise ammunition and on the basis of precise intelligence.” It took out Hamas’ chief of staff for the West Bank and another senior official behind deadly attacks on Israelis, it said.

“The IDF is aware of reports indicating that as a result of the strike and fire that was ignited several civilians in the area were harmed. The incident is under review.”

The spokesman for the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza, Ashraf Al-Qidra, said 35 people were killed and dozens others, most of them women and children, were wounded in the attack.

The strike took place in Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood in western Rafah, where thousands of people were taking shelter after many fled the eastern areas of the city where Israeli forces began a ground offensive over two weeks ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its field hospital in Rafah was receiving an influx of casualties, and that other hospitals also were taking in a large number of patients.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri described the attack in Rafah as a “massacre”, holding the United States responsible for aiding Israel with weapons and money.

“The air strikes burnt the tents, the tents are melting and the people’s bodies are also melting,” said one of the residents who arrived at the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah.

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said eight projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip where Israel kept up operations despite a ruling by the top U.N. court on Friday ordering it to stop attacking the city.

A number of the projectiles were intercepted, it said. There were no reports of casualties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his war cabinet later on Sunday to discuss continued operations in Rafah. Israel argues that the U.N. court’s ruling allows room for some military action there.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades said the rockets were launched in response to “Zionist massacres against civilians”.

Rafah is located about 100 km (60 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area, but its assault has worsened the plight of civilians and caused an international outcry.

On Sunday, Israeli strikes killed at least five Palestinians in Rafah, according to local medical services. The Gaza health ministry identified the dead as civilians.

Israeli tanks have probed around the edges of Rafah, near the crossing point from Gaza into Egypt, and have entered some of its eastern districts, residents say, but have not yet entered the city in force since the start of operations in the city earlier this month.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said the rockets fired from Rafah “prove that the (Israel Defense Forces) must operate in every place Hamas still operates from”.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant held an operational assessment in Rafah where he was briefed on “troops’ operations above and below the ground, as well as the deepening of operations in additional areas with the aim of dismantling Hamas battalions”, his office said in a statement.

Itamar Ben Gvir, a hardline public security minister who is not part of Israel’s war cabinet, urged the army to hit Rafah harder. “Rafah with full force,” he posted on X.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive, Gaza’s health ministry says. Israel launched the operation after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Fighting also continued in the northern Gaza area of Jabaliya, the scene of intense combat earlier in the war. During one raid, the military said it found a weapons storage site with dozens of rocket parts and weapons at a school.

It denied Hamas statements that Palestinian fighters had abducted an Israeli soldier.

Hamas media said an Israeli airstrike on a house in a neighborhood near Jabaliya killed 10 people and wounded others.


Efforts to agree a halt to the fighting and return more than 120 hostages have been blocked for weeks but there were some signs of movement this weekend following meetings between Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials and Qatar’s prime minister.

An official with knowledge of the matter said a decision had been taken to resume the talks this week based on new proposals from Egyptian and Qatari mediators, and with “active U.S. involvement.”

However, a Hamas official played down the report, telling Reuters: “It is not true.”

Netanyahu’s war cabinet would discuss the new proposals, his office said.

A second Hamas official, Izzat El-Reshiq, said the group had not received anything from the mediators on new dates for resuming talks as had been reported by Israeli media.

Reshiq restated Hamas’s demands, which include: “Ending the aggression completely and permanently, in all of Gaza Strip, not only Rafah”.

While Israel is seeking the return of hostages, Netanyahu has repeatedly said the war will not end until Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, is eliminated.


Israel has faced calls to get more aid into Gaza after more than seven months of a war that has caused widespread destruction and hunger in the enclave.

Khaled Zayed of the Egyptian Red Crescent told Reuters 200 trucks of aid, including four fuel trucks, were expected to enter Gaza on Sunday through Kerem Shalom.

It follows an agreement between U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday to temporarily send aid via the Kerem Shalom crossing, bypassing the Rafah crossing that has been blocked for weeks.

Egypt’s state-affiliated Al Qahera News TV shared a video on social media platform X, showing what it said were aid trucks as they entered Kerem Shalom, which before the conflict was the main commercial crossing station between Israel, Egypt and Gaza.

The Rafah crossing has been shut for almost three weeks, since Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the crossing as it stepped up its offensive.

Egypt has been increasingly alarmed at the prospect of large numbers of Palestinians entering its territory from Gaza and has refused to open its side of the Rafah crossing.

Israel has said it is not restricting aid flows and has opened up new crossing points in the north as well as cooperating with the United States, which has built a temporary floating pier for aid deliveries.


This indicator suggests the S&P 500 could hit 5800 by end of 2024

The S&P 500 is up more than 11% year-to-date with major brokerage firms on Wall Street raising their price targets in recent days.

Historical data suggests that when the S&P 500 experiences a 10% or more increase over the first 100 days of the year, it tends to continue rising.

The average return for the remainder of such years is 7.1%, with a median of 9.3%, according to Bank of America analysis.

“This equates to SPX 5640 to 5750 into yearend 2024. The average and median rest of year returns for all years going back to 1928 of 5.0% and 7.3%, respectively, point to SPX 5530 to 5650 into yearend,” the report said.

The S&P 500’s performance in the first 100 days of 2024 is particularly important as it occurs during a Presidential election year, which typically sees more modest gains.

Historically, the index is up 63% of the time during such periods, with an average return of -0.9% and a median return of 0.8%.

The 10.4% YTD gain for 2024 ranks as the second-best start in an election year since 1928, which saw a 12.5% increase.

Further strengthening the positive outlook, when the S&P 500 has risen in the first 100 days of a Presidential election year, the rest of the year has followed suit 93% of the time. The average return for these periods is an impressive 10.1%, with a median return of 8.9%.

In terms of the S&P 500, this could translate to a year-end target of 5800 and 5730, respectively.

Overall, historical patterns for all election years show the index up 88% of the time, with average and median returns of 8.8% and 8.5%, indicating a potential range of 5730 to 5700 for the S&P 500 by the close of 2024.


Asian stocks edge higher from weekly losses, more rate cues awaited

Investing.com– Most Asian stocks advanced on Monday, recovering some ground from losses seen last week although anticipation of more cues on U.S. inflation and interest rates later this week. 

Regional markets took some positive cues from a strong close on Wall Street on Friday, as gains in technology stocks helped the NASDAQ Composite mark a record-high close.

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly in Asian trade, with volumes expected to remain low with the Memorial Day holiday.

China edges higher, industrial profits improve 

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose about 0.1%, recovering mildly from losses seen last week. 

Data on Monday showed Chinese industrial profits grew at a steady pace in April from the prior month, signaling steady improvement in one of the country’s biggest industries.

But cooling optimism over recent stimulus measures from Beijing kept gains in Chinese markets limited. While the government announced a slew of supportive measures for the economy, particularly the housing market, analysts questioned just how these measures will be executed and funded.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.4% on losses in mainland stocks. 

Asian stocks see limited gains, PCE data awaited 

Gains across most Asian markets were limited, as anticipation of key U.S. inflation data later this week kept investors on edge. 

PCE price index data- the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge- is on tap this Friday, and is expected to factor into the outlook for U.S. rates.

Dwindling expectations of U.S. interest rate cuts were a key weight on Asian stocks last week, as traders largely priced out bets on a cut in September. 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, as did the broader TOPIX index. Key inflation, retail sales and industrial production data from Japan is also due later this week.

South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.7%, buoyed by some gains in technology stocks. Hype over artificial intelligence, especially after blowout results from AI darling NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), drove memory chip maker SK Hynix Inc (KS:000660) up 4% to a record high.

China, Japan and South Korea were also seen starting trilateral trade talks. 

Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.7% as it rebounded from losses last week.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a mildly positive open, with the index remaining in sight of recent record highs.