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Morning Bell 21 March

Sophia Mavridis
March 21, 2024

Wall Street rallied overnight, with all three major benchmarks notching all-time closing highs, after the Federal Reserve announced that there will be three rate cuts before the end of the year. This comes after the Fed held rates at a 23-year high. In this week’s policy meeting, rates were left unchanged however the announcement saw a market rally, with the Dow Jones rising 400 points or 1.03% to a record close, the S&P500 up 0.89% and the Nasdaq gaining 1.25%. Financial stocks and tech stocks advanced the most.

Yesterday, the Australian market closed in the red with tech, utilities, and consumer staples down the most, while energy gained.

What to watch today:

  • Today however, our local market is set for a positive start following US equities overnight. The SPI futures are suggesting a 0.63% rise at the open this morning.
  • In commodities,
    • Oil prices have dropped to around US$81.55 per barrel at the time of recording, dropping from over four-month highs touches on Tuesday, a sell-off as investors took profits from the strong run-up in oil prices.  Also, the stronger US dollar added pressure to oil prices, which makes it more expensive for buyers in other currencies, affecting demand.
    • Gold on the other hand is trading in the green, currently around US$2,186 an ounce, following the Fed holding interest rates steady.
    • And iron ore has advanced an impressive 3.8% to US$108.50, recovering earlier losses after hitting it’s lowest level since May 2023.
  • In economic data, the unemployment rate for February will be announced today at 11:30am AEDT, expected to drop from 4.1% to 4%, after January saw the highest unemployment rate in 2 years.
  • Also keep watch of the share price movements of the following companies, that are set to release their earnings reports today. These include Brickworks (ASX:BKW), Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) and Washinton Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL), while Webjet (ASX:WEB) will hold an investor briefing today.
  • And companies going ex-dividend today include Cochlear (ASX:COH), Pacific Smiles Group (ASX:PSQ), Spark New Zealand (ASX:SPK) and Tourism Holdings (ASX:THL). Remember this often sees share prices fall, as investors take their profits.

Trading Ideas:

  • Bell Potter maintains a Buy rating on Smartpay Holdings (ASX:SMP), an independent full-service provider of payment solutions. SMP shares have traded down despite the positive merchant data and growth in digital payments. Bell Potter have increased their price target to $1.76 and at SMP’s current share price of $1.37 this implies 28.7% share price growth in a year.
  • And Trading Central have identified a bullish signal in Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) indicating that the stock price may rise from the close of $24.75 to the range of $29.00 to $30.00 over 17 days, according to the standard principles of technical analysis.

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