Markets Keep Cool Ahead of Q1 Earnings Deluge

Mark Vickery
·3-min read

Market indexes finished in the red today, much as they began during pre-market hours, but only by a little: the Dow closed -0.16%, the S&P 500 was -0.02% and the Nasdaq came in -0.36%. The small-cap Russell 2000 brought up the rear, but not drastically. In what is typically the most-volatile of major indexes we discuss on a daily basis, the small-cal index was down -0.43% on the day. It’s still up nearly 15% year to date.

As we await Q1 earnings releases mid-week, with big banks such as JPMorgan JPM, Wells Fargo WFC and Goldman Sachs GS reporting Wednesday morning, market activity necessarily pivoted on other issues. Before the market open, concerns were about last Friday’s Producer Price Index (PPI) big jump month over month, and that if tomorrow’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) comes in just as hot, we may be staring down the barrel of inflation sooner than we thought.

We also saw a rise in Covid cases starting to build in different regions of the country, such as Florida, Illinois and especially Michigan, which looks like it will soon knock out its previous all-time high peak in Covid cases just after the winter holidays. New variants, reportedly more contagious and much easier spread, was beginning to show a return to earlier peaks. But today’s total Covid case number was back below 50K once again — not great, but not dire — and lower than the 66.5K seven-day average.

So far in the U.S., since February 2020, roughly 31 million Americans have been diagnosed Covid-19 positive. Further, some 187 million vaccines have thus far been administered, along the path President Biden set as a goal: 200 million vaccinations by his first 100 days in office. Currently, the U.S. death toll is around 559K. The biggest rises in caseloads, however, are outside the U.S.: in Argentina and Chile in South America, and various countries from France to Ukraine in Europe.

On its Annual Investor Day, NVIDIA NVDA announced that its Q1 results (fiscal quarter end: May 2) are tracking above guidance. Its Data Center strength is being promoted by increased A.I. usage. Also, the inventor of the Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) has announced it is now making server Computer Processing Units (CPU). The success history in its previous businesses has led investors to be wary of Intel INTC shares on this news, which fell 4.2% in normal trading. NVIDIA rose 5.6%

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