1. Asian Equities Rise as Powell Reaffirms Rate Cuts: Markets Wrap

    (Bloomberg) — Equities in Asia rose Thursday after Jerome Powell reaffirmed his view the Federal Reserve will likely cut rates this year. Australian stocks advanced while Japanese benchmarks gained over 1%. Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan will be closed Thursday for a holiday.

  1. Gold Sets Another Record High Above $2,300 After Powell Comments

    (Bloomberg) — Gold set another record high above $2,300 an ounce on the likelihood the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year, and sustained demand from central banks. Bullion touched a peak of $2,304.96 an ounce before trading little changed as investors took comfort in Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s assurance on Wednesday that it will likely be appropriate to begin lowering borrowing costs “at some point this year”.

  2. California’s Last Nuclear Plant Should Stay Open, PG&E CEO Says

    (Bloomberg) — California should consider keeping its last nuclear power plant — Diablo Canyon — running past its planned closure in 2030, according to PG&E Corp. Chief Executive Officer Patti Poppe. “Nuclear should be part of the future,” Poppe told a Stanford University forum on Wednesday.

  3. Oil Advances After OPEC+ Affirms Production Cuts Through June

    (Bloomberg) — Oil rose toward a five-month high after OPEC+ confirmed it would maintain its existing supply cuts through the end of June. Brent crude edged closer toward $90 a barrel after climbing more than 2% over the previous two sessions, while West Texas Intermediate was near $86.

  4. Biden to Speak With Netanyahu as Tensions Flare Over Aid Deaths

    (Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Thursday, as tensions between the two leaders deepen after the death of seven aid workers delivering food to displaced Palestinians in Gaza, according to a US official.

  5. BOJ Likely to Wait Until Fall on Next Hike, Ex-Board Member Says

    (Bloomberg) — The Bank of Japan is likely to wait until autumn before mulling whether to raise interest rates again after successfully negotiating the tricky task of backing away from its massive stimulus program, according to a former policy board member.

  6. Israel’s Gantz Ups Ante With Netanyahu by Calling for Early Vote

    (Bloomberg) — Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, called for early elections, ramping up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s facing an international backlash as the conflict in Gaza rages and growing domestic protests against his government.

  7. Powell Says Fed Has Time to Assess Data Before Deciding to Cut

    (Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signalled policymakers will wait for clearer signs of lower inflation before cutting interest rates, even though a recent bump in prices didn’t alter their broader trajectory. Powell said recent inflation figures — though higher than expected — did not “materially change” the overall picture.

  8. Oldest Hedge Fund Strategy Wins Cash After Two-Year Exodus

    (Bloomberg) — Stock picking hedge funds are coming back into favor for the first time in two years after a turnaround in their performance. Equity long-short hedge funds, which make bets on how companies will perform, attracted $1.5 billion in net inflows in February — the first positive reading in 24 months — according to data platform Nasdaq eVestment.

  9. Disney’s Iger Wins Proxy Vote Over Peltz With Board Election

    (Bloomberg) — Walt Disney Co. shareholders handed Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger a big vote of confidence, rejecting dissident investor Nelson Peltz’s bid for a board seat at the giant entertainment company. Shareholders elected all of Disney’s choices for the board, turning aside the nomination of Peltz, executives announced Wednesday at the company’s annual meeting.

  10. L’Oreal Is Said to Eye Stake in €3 Billion Perfume Brand Amouage

    (Bloomberg) — L’Oreal SA is considering a potential investment in Omani luxury fragrance company Amouage, according to people familiar with the matter. The French beauty group has been holding talks on the possible purchase of a minority stake in Amouage, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

  11. Ulta Beauty sinks as much as 14%, the most intraday since March 2020, after the company said the first quarter started off slowly, with a broad-based slowdown across beauty categories.

    “We had planned for moderation in total category growth to kind of the mid-single-digit range. What we’ve seen so far is a slowdown in the total category across price points and segments. So that’s a bit earlier and a bit bigger than we thought,” Ulta comments during fireside chat at JPMorgan conference. Ulta anticipates first-quarter comparable sales to come in at the lower end of the low-single-digit growth range it had forecast for the first half of its fiscal year. Says it lost market share in prestige makeup, and hair category has been challenging.

  12. Intel fell as much as 5.9% on Wednesday after the chipmaker said that losses have deepened at its factory business and the unit may not reach a break-even point for several years.

    The chipmaker also named Lorenzo Flores as chief financial officer of the division. Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore (equal-weight, PT $48): The losses at Intel’s Foundry unit were even bigger than anticipated. “See the opportunity but ultimately remain cautious — the sum-of-the-parts unlock may require a complete separation, not a segmentation or even a tracking stock”.

  13. Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of film and TV giant Paramount Global, has reached a tentative agreement to sell her stake in the company to David Ellison’s Sky dance Media, people with knowledge of the situation said.

    Sky dance is holding exclusive talks with a panel of independent directors at Paramount as part of a provisional accord to buy Redstone’s family holding company National Amusements, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. National Amusements holds a near 80% voting stake in Paramount, the owner of several major film and TV properties including CBS and MTV.

  14. Spotify shares rise 5.1% after Bloomberg reported that the streaming company plans to raise the price of its popular audio service in several key markets for the second time in a year.

    Bloomberg cited people familiar for the Spotify price increases, as well as for the company’s plan to introduce a new basic tier that will offer music and podcasts — but not audiobooks — for the current $11 monthly price of an individual premium plan. See Spotify to Raise Prices, Introduce New Plans for Books and Music. Warner Music Group rises 4.68% and Universal Music Group gains 5.5% in Europe.

  15. Levi Strauss & Co.’s shares rose more than 6% in late trading after reporting higher-than-expected sales and profit for 1Q24 amid market-share gains and lowered costs, fuelling optimism for FY24.

    Revenue of $1.56 billion -7.8% YoY, Adjusted EBIT of $140.7 million -24% YoY, Adjusted EPS of 26 cents and gross margin beat street estimates overall, as the company saw “the structural economics of our business improved in Q1 driven by significant gross margin expansion, disciplined expense controls and efficient working capital management”. Levi also raised its full-year profit guidance by 2 cents from its previous outlook, and now sees earnings per share for the period between $1.17 and $1.27.

  16. Singapore’s Region-Lagging Bonds Face Little Near-Term Relief

    (Bloomberg) — Overseas investors in Singapore government bonds may need to steel themselves for more disappointment. The debt is already the worst performing in Southeast Asia in dollar terms this year with a loss of over 4%, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

  17. GE shares rises as much as 5.8% Wednesday, on pace to close at the highest since April 2017, a day after its newly separated power business GE Vernova started trading as a public company.

    GE is the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500 Index on Wednesday. The move brings GE’s advance for the year to over 40%, compared to a 9.5% rise in the S&P.

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