1. Asian Stocks Rise to Track Gains on Wall Street: Markets Wrap

(Bloomberg) — Equity markets in Asia opened higher Friday after a stellar quarter for US stocks ended on a positive note amid speculation the Federal Reserve will be able to achieve a soft landing. Japanese equities climbed while South Korean shares were steady as much of the region, including Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore are closed for a public holiday.

2.     US Q4 GDP: US economy grows 3.4% YoY in October-December driven by consumer spending, high exports

The US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 3.4 per cent annualized rate in the fourth quarter (October-December 2023), up from 3.2 per cent estimates a month ago. Higher estimates of consumer spending, exports and business investment supported the economy during the quarter-under-review. 

  • Tokyo Inflation Slowdown Won’t Knock the BOJ Off Rate Hike Path

(Bloomberg) — Consumer price growth in Tokyo moderated while staying well above the central bank’s inflation target, keeping authorities on track to consider more interest increases after they hiked earlier this month for the first time since 2007. Prices excluding fresh food rose 2.4% in March in the capital, slowing slightly from 2.5% in February, the ministry of internal affairs said Friday. The reading matched economists’ estimates.

  • South Korea’s Semiconductor Output Rises by Most in 14 Years

(Bloomberg) — South Korea’s output of semiconductors jumped the most in 14 years in February in an indication of ongoing recovery in the country’s most important industrial sector and global tech demand. Production jumped 65.3% from a year earlier, the biggest rise since late 2009, according to data released Friday by the national statistics agency.

  • Bankman-Fried Gets 25 Years for Stealing Billions in FTX Fraud

(Bloomberg) — FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing billions of dollars from customers, marking the final chapter in a case that has upended the crypto industry. US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan delivered the sentence in federal court in Manhattan moments after Bankman-Fried said he was “sorry about what happened at every stage.” He was convicted last year of seven offenses, including fraud and conspiracy.

  • Cash at Fed Central Bank Tool Grows Amid Yen Intervention Talk

(Bloomberg) — Usage of a key Federal Reserve facility for foreign central banks rose as Japanese officials this week stepped up warnings they would act to halt the slide in the yen.  Foreign central banks stashed $354 billion at the Fed’s reverse repurchase agreement facility, according to data for the period through March 27, up from $349 billion a week earlier.

  • Microsoft-Backed Rubrik Is Said Ready to File Next Week for IPO

(Bloomberg) — Rubrik Inc., a cloud and data security startup backed by Microsoft Corp., is planning to file as soon as next week for an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter. Details of the company’s plans, including the timing, could still change, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.

  • Disney bashes Nelson Peltz as an ’81-year-old hedge fund manager with no creative experience’

(Quartz) Disney’s fierce battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz got even more heated this week when the media giant released a presentation in which it said Peltz demonstrated “how ill-equipped he is to serve on Disney’s board,” following an interview the investor gave the Financial Times.

  • Exxon, Cnooc Merge Guyana Arbitration Claims Against Chevron

(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. and Cnooc Ltd. merged arbitration claims against Chevron Corp.’s proposed takeover of Hess Corp. that would allow the US oil supermajor to enter Guyana’s Stabroek Block.  The unified arbitration was approved after a March 26 application, according to a Hess letter to stockholders included in a Chevron a regulatory filing on Thursday.

  • Jefferies Surge Bodes Well for Wall Street Heavy Hitters

(Bloomberg) — Jefferies Financial Group Inc.’s revenue jump — due to strong capital markets and rebounding investment banking — bodes well for the bigger banks due to report in weeks to come. The benchmark KBW Bank Index advanced 0.9% on Thursday, closing at the highest since March 6, 2023, shortly before turmoil struck the industry.

Walgreens tops quarterly revenue estimates, but narrows profit outlook in ‘challenging’ economy

Walgreens reported fiscal second-quarter sales that beat Wall Street’s expectations. But the retail pharmacy giant lowered the high end of its fiscal 2024 adjusted profit guidance in part due to a “challenging” retail environment in the U.S. The company also posted a steep net loss for the quarter as it recorded a hefty nearly $6 billion charge related to the decline in value of its investment in primary-care provider VillageMD.

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