Stock market today: S&P 500 futures gain after Tesla's China gambit

Stocks on Wall Street inched higher Monday ahead of a big week filled with a Federal Reserve rate decision, the monthly jobs report, and earnings from more Magnificent Seven tech heavyweights.

Futures on the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) were both up roughly 0.2% as Tesla (TSLA) shares surged amid upbeat China news. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI), which has fewer tech components, were up about 0.1%.

Stocks are eyeing a return to Friday’s sharp gains, which came as strong earnings from Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) boosted optimism for a lasting Big Tech-driven rally. Quarterly reports from Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) due this week will put those hopes to the test again, with AI costs and prospects under the microscope.

Among techs, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s surprise visit to China on Sunday brought immediate benefits for the EV maker, which cleared two big barriers to rolling out its Full Self Driving software in the country. Tesla shares rose almost 10% in premarket after it reached an FSD-linked deal with Baidu (BIDU) seen as potentially helping stem its sales slump in a huge market. The Chinese internet giant’s US-listed stock was up 6%.

At the same time, investors are counting down to the Federal Reserve’s policy decision at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Confusion reigns over whether the cooling in inflation has stalled and what any persistence in price pressures implies for interest-rate cuts.

While the central bank is expected to hold rates steady at a 23-year high, debate is raging over the timing and even likelihood of a cut in 2024. In focus is whether Fed policymakers will backtrack on their earlier projection for a significant easing in borrowing costs. Traders have already scaled back their bets, and the April jobs report that rounds off the week could move the needle again.

In big individual movers on Monday, Philips (PHG) shares rocketed up over 40% after the medical device maker said it had agreed a $1.1 billion deal to settle claims linked to a breathing device recall. The settlement was significantly lower than expected.

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    Important point on Tesla from EvercoreISI

    The analyst note of the morning — at least for me — is the 61 page deep dive on Tesla (TSLA) from EvercoreISI analyst Chris McNally.

    McNally cut his price target to $145 from $155 (stock is indicating up 7% pre-market on Musk’s AI win in China over the weekend, which is also lifting shares of new partner Baidu), citing a host of concerns — notably the inability of Tesla to hit its sales for 2024.

    In the report, McNally makes a great point on Tesla being unable to expand its market because of a lack of models. He uses BMW as an example of a car company selling multiple models to attract numerous types of consumers.

    Tesla could learn a few things from BMW.

    Tesla could learn a few things from BMW. (EvercoreISI)

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