March 23, 2023

Asia Pacific stock markets were mixed on Thursday, and European bourses closed modestly lower as investors digested the latest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank. North American stock markets moved sharply higher in early trading on Thursday but gave back ground over the course of the trading session. The major averages pulled back well off their best levels but recovered going into the close to end the day in positive territory. The early rally on Wall Street came as traders continued to react to yesterday’s monetary policy announcement by the Federal Reserve. While some traders were initially disappointed the Fed decided to continue raising rates despite recent banking industry turmoil, indications the central bank is nearing the end of its tightening cycle generated some buying interest. The latest projections suggest the Fed plans just one more quarter-point rate increase this year, with CME Group’s FedWatch Tool currently indicating a 31.3 percent chance the rate hike will come in May and a 68.9 percent chance rates will remain unchanged. Even if the Fed raises rates again at its next meeting, traders may take some comfort in knowing officials feel a range of 5.0 to 5.25 percent will be the so-called “terminal rate.” Buying interest waned over the course of the session, however, as concerns about the recent trouble in the banking sector continue to hang over the markets. Semiconductor stocks moved sharply higher on the day, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 2.7 percent to its best closing level in eleven months. Considerable strength was also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The strength in the sector comes as the price of gold for April delivery spiked $46.30 to $1,995.90 an ounce. Software stocks also showed a strong move to the upside on the day, with the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index climbing by 1.8 percent. Meanwhile, oil service stocks came under pressure over the course of the session, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 2.5 percent. A notable decrease by the price of crude oil weighed on the sector. In the bond market, treasuries extended the strong upward move seen over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slumped by 9.4 basis points to 3.406 percent. Trading activity on Friday may be impacted by reaction to a report on durable goods orders in the month of February. 

* Nikkei -0.17%

* Shanghai Composite +0.64%

* Hang Seng +2.34%

* DAX -0.04%
* FTSE -0.89%
* CAC +0.11%
* DJIA +0.23%
* S&P 500 +0.30%
* Nasdaq +1.01%
* Russell 2000 -0.41%

* BSD Global Tech Hedge Fund +0.67%