Several indices set new records yesterday. In France, the CAC40 topped the 8,000-point mark for the first time. Central banks didn’t cause any turmoil, as the Fed and the ECB did pretty much where we'd expected them to do: keeping rates steady, while hinting at cuts. The market had been hoping for June, but thought that July would be more reasonable. Is June more likely now?

Jerome Powell told congressmen yesterday he was aware of the risks to the economy posed by restrictive monetary policy, while suggesting that the easing phase was approaching.

Another factor that explains the good performance of indices is FOMO (fear of missing out), which causes investors to follow like sheep. The example of AI stocks Super Micro Computer or Arm comes to mind. Or bitcoin. We also have TINA (there is no alternative (to stocks)), with investors opting massively for equities instead of bonds.

Today, investors were awaiting the US job report to get more clues about monetary policy. The picture was a bit mixed. The labor market added 275,000 jobs in February instead of 200,000 expected in the consensus - a sign that economic growth is still solid and the need for rate cuts is lessened. However, there was sharp downward revisions in the number of new jobs created in January and December, and the unemployment rate went from 3.7% in January to 3.9% in February, while 3.7% was expected in the consensus of economists. In addition, the report included some signs that inflation was coming under control, since average hourly earnings increased by 0.1%, instead of the 0.2% expected. You guessed it, the data leaves a lot to interpretation.

In other news, Bloomberg reported that the renaissance of Chinese groups Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International in advanced chips is based on material produced by US companies Applied Materials and LAM Research. It's a bit of a mess, given the tariffs and restrictions policies that the US administration is looking to implement. On the bright side, it proves that China depends on foreign technologies for its high-tech sectors.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden delivered a particularly vehement State of the Union address against Donald Trump yesterday. POTUS looked keen to dismiss his age critics.

Asia Pacific was draped in green this morning. Gains were moderate in Tokyo, Bombay and Shanghai. They exceeded 1% in Sydney, Hong Kong and Seoul. In these markets, as in the West, investors are unable to identify any major clouds on the horizon. European leading indicators are mixed, and so are futures on Wall Street, with Dow Jones futures down 0.1%, S&P 500 futures up 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures at zero.

Today's economic highlights:

The highlight of the day is the US employment report.

The dollar is down to EUR 0.9146 and GBP 0.7782. The ounce of gold is firm at USD 2,166. Oil is little changed, with North Sea Brent at USD 82.45 a barrel and US light crude WTI at USD 78.22. The yield on 10-year US debt stands at 4.08%. Bitcoin trades at USD 67,700.

In corporate news:

  • Broadcom announced on Thursday evening that it expected sales of $10 billion this year from chips designed for artificial intelligence. However, the group did not update its annual forecast of $50 billion in global sales, which disappointed investors, sending the stock down 2.5% in pre-market trading.
  • Marvell Technology lost 5.8% in premarket trading after the semiconductor group reported quarterly sales below market expectations, against a backdrop of weak demand in its wireless infrastructure markets.
  • China is preparing a $27 billion-plus fund to accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies to counter U.S. restrictions, Bloomberg reported Friday.
  • Gap jumped 6.4% in pre-market trading after the ready-to-wear group reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, thanks to the dynamism of the Gap and Old Navy brands amid a recovery in retail sales.
  • Costco Wholesale was down 4% in pre-market trading after reporting fourth-quarter sales below expectations.
  • Boeing announced on Thursday evening that it was revising the way it pays bonuses to its employees in order to place greater emphasis on quality and safety, as this year's operational targets are focused exclusively on these two elements.
  • Eli Lilly loses 1.2% in pre-market trading, as the FDA, the US health authority, postpones by several months the announcement of its opinion on donanemab, an experimental treatment for patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
  • Tapestry, Capri Holding - European competition authorities will decide by April 15 whether to allow Coach parent Tapestry to buy Capri Holdings, owner of the Michael Kors and Versace brands, in an $8.5 billion deal, shows a European Commission notice.
  • UnitedHealth Group announced Thursday evening that its online platform for pharmacy services was fully operational again after a February 21 cyberattack on its Change Healthcare technology division.
  • Goldman Sachs announced on Friday its intention to withdraw from commercial banking in Japan, a business it launched in April 2023 and which provides treasury services including deposits, cash management and cross-border payments.
  • DocuSign climbs 10% in pre-market trading, as the virtual document signature specialist forecasts total annual sales of between $2.92 and $2.93 billion, ahead of analysts' forecasts of $2.91 billion, according to LSEG data.

Analyst recommendations:

  • Coinbase Global, Inc.: Goldman Sachs upgrades to neutral from sell with a price target raised from USD 170 to USD 282.
  • Dell Technologies Inc.: Baptista Research downgrades to hold from underperform with a price target raised from USD 72.10 to USD 135.10.
  • General Electric Company: JP Morgan upgrades to overweight from neutral with a price target raised from USD 166 to USD 180.
  • Healthpeak Properties, Inc.: RBC Capital upgrades to outperform from restricted with a target price of USD 21.
  • Marvell Technology Group Ltd: Fubon Securities downgrades to neutral from buy with a price target raised from USD 63 to USD 75. Summit Insights Group LLC upgrades to buy from hold.
  • Mongodb, Inc.: D.A. Davidson upgrades to buy from neutral with a price target raised from USD 405 to USD 430.
  • Broadcom Inc.: Piper Sandler & Co maintains its overweight recommendation and raises the target price from USD 1250 to USD 1650. Haitong International Research Ltd maintains a neutral recommendation with a price target raised from USD 950 to USD 1201.
  • Kroger Co. (The): Morgan Stanley maintains its market weight recommendation and raises the target price from USD 46 to USD 58.
  • Lucid Group, Inc.: RBC Capital maintains its sector perform recommendation and reduces the target price from USD 6 to USD 3.
  • Micron Technology, Inc.: Wells Fargo maintains its overweight rating and raises the target price from USD 95 to USD 125.
  • Okta, Inc.: Baptista Research maintains its hold recommendation with a price target raised from USD 82 to USD 120.90.
  • Target Corporation: Daiwa Securities maintains a neutral recommendation with a price target raised from USD 134 to USD 176.
  • A.g. Barr P.l.c.: Barclays upgrades to equalweight from underweight with a price target raised from GBP 5.17 to GBP 5.22.
  • Bae Systems Plc: Citi upgrades to neutral from rating suspended with a target price of GBP 14.
  • Gsk Plc: Zacks upgrades to outperform from neutral with a price target raised from USD 44 to USD 49.
  • Spirax-Sarco Engineering Plc: Stifel downgrades to sell from hold with a target price of GBX 8500.
  • Tyman Plc: Liberum upgrades to buy from under review with a price target reduced from GBX 365 to GBX 345.
  • Virgin Money UK: Societe Generale downgrades to hold from buy with a price target raised from GBX 184 to GBX 218.