There has been a decline in the rate of new coronavirus infections, followed by improving economic data and stimulus hopes. Consequently, experts have predicted that these developments could boost stocks that flourish in a resurging economy in the new week. The previous week saw expectations for a strong economic rebound helping to boost interest rates, with sectors such as financials, airlines and industrials standing out as leaders despite the broader stock market being choppy. Stocks in these sectors gained at the expense of growth and technology, which experienced a 2% decline.
The S&P 500 was down 0.7% on the week to 3,906, while the Dow was up a tiny 0.1% at 31,494. The NASDAQ was off 1.57% for the week, to 13,874, with the decline in tech. Apple, for instance, gave up 4% on the week.
The Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to deliver his semi-annual testimony on the economy before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, a major event that could have a significant effect on the economy.
“He’s going to have to acknowledge that the data is improving and the virus situation is improving quite materially,” said Mark Cabana, head of U.S. rates strategy at Bank of America. “It is going to be hard for him to sound as dovish as he has been.”
The Fed Chairman is expected to continue to lay emphasis on keeping rates low for a long time, maintaining its easy policies to help the economy.
Economists ratcheted up tracking forecasts for first quarter GDP earlier in the week, fueled partly by an unexpected sharp increase of 5.3% in January retail sales.
Goldman upped first-quarter growth to 6% while Morgan Stanley said it was tracking at 7.5% for the first quarter. Economists have attributed the surprise gain in retail sales to stimulus checks sent to individuals under the last $900 billion stimulus program.
″[Powell’s] going to stick to the script. The script is lawmakers need to continue to provide support for the economy. He’s going to be supportive of the administration’s effort to get a big package through,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
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