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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

In the wake of a robust conclusion to 2023, Asian and European stock markets faced a downturn on Wednesday as investors opted to cash in profits. Attention now turns to the impending release of the US Federal Reserve minutes and jobs data, prompting a cautious market sentiment.

Oil prices, having surged on Tuesday due to concerns over supply amid tensions between Iran and the United States in the Red Sea, observed a decline. Meanwhile, the dollar strengthened against the euro and yen as market participants awaited insights into the Fed’s interest-rate outlook from the forthcoming minutes of its last monetary policy meeting of 2023.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould highlighted the perceived confusion in the central bank’s messaging at the close of 2023, initially suggesting rate cuts in 2024 before dampening such discussions. Mould anticipates that the released minutes might offer much-needed clarity on the matter.

Late last year, equities surged on expectations of interest rate cuts by the US central bank in 2024 as inflation appeared to cool. However, analysts caution against an overly exuberant rally and advise investors to brace for a potential pullback. Notably, tech giants like Apple and Amazon are anticipated to bear the brunt of such market adjustments.

On Tuesday, Wall Street witnessed a 1.6 percent decline in the Nasdaq and a modest dip in the S&P 500, while the Dow managed a slight rise. The negative trend persisted in Asian markets on Wednesday, with Hong Kong, Sydney, Seoul, and Taipei experiencing notable losses. Shanghai bucked the trend with a slight increase, while Tokyo remained closed for a Japanese holiday.

In European markets, Paris led the decline with a drop of over one percent, while London and Frankfurt each shed around half a percent. Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan characterized the beginning of the year as marked by “risk retrenchment,” posing the question of whether this reflects a sustainable correction from excessive exuberance or merely profit-taking.

Market participants are eager to glean insights from the Fed’s post-meeting statement in December, which had initially indicated three interest rate cuts for the current year, though some observers are speculating on the possibility of more aggressive moves by the central bank.

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