Wall Street was set for a strong open on Thursday as better-than-expected results from Meta Platforms, Eli Lilly and Comcast outweighed data showing the U.S. economy slowed more than anticipated in the first quarter.
Meta Platforms Inc soared 14.6% in premarket trading as it forecast quarterly revenue above estimate, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that Artificial Intelligence was increasing traffic to Facebook and Instagram and boosting ad sales.
Shares of social media platforms Snap Inc and Pinterest Inc rose around 4% each.
Meta is the second best performer among the S&P 500 stocks with a 74% gain so far this year, next only to Nvidia Corp .
Eli Lilly and Co advanced 3.1% on raising its full-year profit forecast, while Merck & Co gained 2.3% on better-than-expected first-quarter results.
Comcast Corp rose 4.9% as it beat estimates for quarterly revenue and profit, thanks to sustained demand for its broadband services and higher theme park attendance.
Raising worries about the economy, gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a 1.1% annualized rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said in its advance estimate for first-quarter growth, while economists polled by Reuters had estimated a 2.0% expansion.
“January was really the standout month and since then we’ve seen weakness in February and March, which has really been slowly dragging down the economy,” said Brian Klimke, investment director at Cetera Investment Management.
“If we’re looking to the future, data does seem to be continuing to weaken. The good news is we do think a recession could be mild.”
Despite the slowdown, which mostly reflected a drag from weak inventory investment, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates by another 25 basis points next week.
A separate report showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ending April 22. Economists had expected 248,000 claims in the latest week.
The decline in first-quarter earnings is estimated to be smaller than analysts had expected at the start of the month, with a host of tech names such as Microsoft Corp and Alphabet reporting upbeat results this week.
Analysts expect first-quarter earnings to drop 3.2% year-over-year for S&P 500 companies versus a 5.1% decline forecast earlier.
Amazon.com Inc and Intel are among the big names set to report after markets close.
The S&P 500 closed at near one-month low on Wednesday after lingering concerns about a weakening U.S. economy were exacerbated by a fresh plunge in First Republic Bank’s shares after a report said the U.S. government was unwilling to engineer its rescue.
At 8:57 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 163 points, or 0.49%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 23.5 points, or 0.58%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 133.75 points, or 1.04%.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly passed a bill to raise the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling that includes sweeping spending cuts over the next decade. The bill is expected to get stalled in the Senate.
EBay Inc climbed 2.6% after the e-commerce company forecast current-quarter revenue above projections. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)
Meanwhile, shares of luxury brands that are reliant on China’s consumer base, have started tumbling on stagnant activity.
Chinese equity markets were not immune to slowing performance, as the CSI 300 index continued to slip this week. At the end of April, declining hopes for added stimulus brought the Shenzhen and Shanghai indices down by $519 billion in one week alone.
The stalling performance prompted Rockefeller International’s Ruchir Sharma to call the rebound narrative a “charade.”
But for one analyst, the growing pessimism around China’s economy could stem more from unrealistically high expectations and Wall Street’s tendency to prioritize immediate metrics over long-term outlooks.
“I feel sorry for these people in some ways, because every time the Chinese release some data, they have to say something about it,” Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics told Insider.
Heightened anticipations may be due to China’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, when Beijing infused the economy with massive stimulus and achieved double-digit growth, Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Duncan Wrigley said.
However, it also led to a huge debt hangover that China has worked to resolve for much of the last decade. So while demand is slowing, limiting debt growth is equally prioritized by party leaders, he said.
The country set a more conservative 5% growth target in March, which both analysts see as achievable. Although the country will avoid full-scale stimulus to reach the goal, it has a number of tools to ensure growth keeps ticking upwards.
Despite its aim to limit debt, China could increase the availability of cheap loans to sectors in need, as well as lift the lending quota for the three main policy banks, while allowing them to invest in local projects, Wrigley said.
If this isn’t enough, he noted that the People’s Bank of China could ease financial conditions later in the year, such as decreasing the reserve requirement ratio for banks.
But youth unemployment remains high, while heightened geopolitical risk may deny China’s access to foreign technology.
And private investment, a major source of growth in China, has nearly collapsed in the past 15 months, Lardy said.
This may have to do with stringent regulation of Chinese business, as President Xi Jinping expands the role of the state in the market, dissuading business owners from investing in their firms, he said.
“That’s the one big negative factor that I worry about more than all the other things that we have talked about. Why is private investment so weak?” he said.
Speaking on May 25 with the Minister of Immigration, Francisation and Integration, Christine Frechette and the Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge, Legault says the changes will ensure that nearly 100% of new economic immigrants to Quebec will know French before they arrive in the province by 2026. This is meant to promote Francophone economic immigration in Quebec.
“As we have seen for several years, French is in decline in Quebec,” said Legault. “Since 2018, our government has acted to protect our language, more than other successive governments since the adoption of Bill 101 under the Lévesque government. But if we want to reverse the trend, we must go further. By 2026, our goal is to have almost entirely Francophone economic immigration. We all have a duty, as Quebecers, to speak French, to transmit our culture on a daily basis, and to be proud of it.”
Knowledge of oral French will be required for adults. This is meant to ensure that those who wish to settle in Quebec will be able to communicate in French throughout day-to-day interactions at work and in their communities.
The changes are part of a new permanent immigration program for skilled workers in Quebec. The province says the Skilled Worker Selection Program will “take into account the diverse needs of Quebec.”
Candidates in the program will be evaluated in four categories that have not yet been made clear, but the province says that three of the categories will require that the principal applicant and their accompanying spouse have knowledge of French.
There will also be revisions to existing programs. For example, the work experience requirement will be removed from the Quebec Experience Program for graduate students from a French-language study program.
Family reunification measures include making it mandatory for the guarantor to submit a plan for reception and integration that will support the learning of French for the person they are hosting.
Immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. Quebec’s agreement is unique from other provinces in that it can select all its economic immigrants. Quebec does not have the authority to select family class sponsorship applicants or those who arrive in Canada as refugees or other humanitarian classes.
For 2023, Quebec has targeted that 65% of newcomers admitted to the province will be economic class.
Increasing immigration numbers in Quebec
The province is also considering raising the number of permanent selection admissions from 50,000 to 60,000 per year by 2027. This is in stark contrast to Legault’s recent comments that there was “no question” of Quebec accepting any rise in the number of newcomers and publicly rejecting the federal Immigration Levels Plan, which has a target of 500,000 permanent residents admitted to Canada each year by the end of 2025.
Quebec is unique in Canada as it is the only province where French is the official language. The province is fiercely protective of its language, saying it is vital to protecting Quebec’s unique culture and status.
Legault is the leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and is currently in his second term as Quebec’s premier, having been reelected last October. One of the main pillars of the CAQ party is to protect the French language in Quebec.
Immigration was one of the key issues in the recent election. Throughout his campaign, Legault said that Quebec would allow only 50,000 immigrants per year into the province as it would be difficult to accommodate and integrate more than that into Quebec society. He said that accepting more than that would be “a bit suicidal.”
Regardless, Quebec, like the rest of Canada, is experiencing a labour shortage as the population ages and the birth rate remains low. A report released last March by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows that the province could face an annual shortfall of up to nearly 18,000 immigrants, who would be able to fill Quebec’s labour needs.
The Turkish currency weakened to 20.01 to the dollar on Monday after the high-stakes run-off a day earlier.
But Turkish stocks, on the other hand, rose as Erdogan entered a third decade in power with the benchmark BIST-100 index up 3.5 percent and the banking index rising more than 1 percent.
The lira fell to a record low as the country battles a cost of living crisis and depleted foreign reserves.
On the campaign trail, Erdogan pledged to slash inflation to single digits and boost economic growth, a message he reiterated in his victory speech late on Sunday. But analysts said his economic policies are unorthodox and predicted they will lead to more pain for Turks.
“In our view, Erdogan’s biggest challenge is Turkey’s economy,” Roger Mark, an analyst at the Ninety One investment management firm told the Reuters news agency. “His victory comes against a backdrop of perilous economic imbalances with his heterodox economic model proving increasingly unsustainable”.
Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at Tellimer, an emerging markets research firm, told the agency: “An Erdogan win offers no comfort for any foreign investor.”
“Only the most optimistic would hope that Erdogan now feels sufficiently secure politically to revert to orthodox economic policy,” he said.
Interest rate cuts sought by Erdogan sparked a devaluation of the Turkish lira in late 2021 and sent inflation to a 24-year peak of 85.5 percent last year. The president had argued that higher interest rates cause inflation while central banks around the world were raising rates to reduce price rises.
Turkey’s struggling economy, also reeling after the country’s devastating double earthquakes in February, was a major thorn in Erdogan’s prospect for re-election.
The leader has defended his economic policies, reassuring Turks that investment, production, exports and an eventual current account surplus will drive up Turkey’s gross domestic product.