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S&P 500 index, Dow notch record highs heading into Easter weekend

 

Dow, S&P 500 index score record closes heading into Easter weekend 

U.S. equities closed out a shortened trading week in the green, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P 500 index closing at new record highs and clinching their best gains over two consecutive quarters since 2020. 

Here’s how the main U.S. equity benchmarks closed on Thursday, March 28: 

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.29 points (0.1%), ending at a record 39,807.37. 
  • The S&P 500 index gained 5.86 points (0.1%), closing at a record 5,254.35. 
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index finished 20.06 points lower (-0.1%), at 16,379.46. 

 
Despite a mixed weekly performance, stocks still posted large monthly and quarterly gains, buoyed by a resilient U.S. economy and expectations of several interest rate cuts later this year. 

In 2024, the strength in the equity market has extended beyond large-cap companies. The Russell 2000 index, representing small-cap stocks, surged 9.6% year-to-date (YTD) as of Thursday, outpacing the Dow's 5.6% rise and the Nasdaq's 9.1% gain. 

All three major indices notched their second consecutive quarterly gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average boasting an 18.8% cumulative increase and the S&P 500 index registering a 22.5% surge over the past two quarters, marking their best performance since Q3 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data. 

 

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SocGen, UBS, Goldman revise S&P 500 targets for 2024  

The S&P 500’s gains and the resilience of U.S. equity markets have led a number of Wall Street banks to revise their S&P 500 targets upward this year, with Bank of America and UBS both setting their forecasts at 5,400. Barclays has set its S&P 500 target slightly lower at 5,300.  

Goldman Sachs adjusted its S&P 500 forecast target to 5,200 in February, marking its second increase since the previous year.   

Société Générale has one of the most bullish projections among the major Wall Street banks, recently updating its S&P 500 forecast to 5,500, up from 4,750. Several research firms have set even loftier targets. 

These adjustments reflect a cautiously optimistic stance following a notably bullish year for the stock market. 

 

dollar FED closeup

 

U.S. stock market rally comes amid Fed signals of three rate cuts 

This rally to record highs comes amid signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve that the previously anticipated seven rate cuts, priced in by some traders a few months ago, are off the table — with the possibility of three interest cuts in 2024 maybe even seeming overly optimistic. 

Speculation has arisen following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's recent news conference, suggesting that policymakers may not be rushing to rein in inflation to meet the central bank's 2% target. 

In a Thursday note cited by MarketWatch, Christopher Wood, global head of equity strategy at Jefferies, noted Powell's repeated emphasis on reaching the 2% inflation target "over time” — which may suggest a potential shift in the Fed's approach. 

"This emphasis on the phrase 'over time' does suggest a soft removal of the 2% target or, at least, an elongated timeline to get there," Wood wrote. That supports the argument that the Federal Reserve will prioritize the employment portion of its mandate over the inflation portion in a presidential election year, he said. 

"Indeed, it would probably do so even if it was not an election year. [The upshot is that this] is positive for the many emerging markets which have lots of room to cut rates if the Fed starts easing and the U.S. dollar starts weakening, which is what is likely to happen if the Fed fudges the 2% target," he added. 

 


When considering shares, indices, forex (foreign exchange) and commodities for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant degree of risk and could result in capital loss. 

Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be construed to be investment advice. 

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