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Economy

Defensive stocks lead Wall Street higher amid recession fears

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Devik Jain and Boleslaw Lasocki

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Thursday as investors turned to consumer staples and healthcare companies to mitigate their risks if the economy falls into recession.

Following the largest interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in nearly three decades, investors fear economic growth and corporate profits could come under pressure, with the Ukraine war and the supply chain problems adding to the woes.

Big Wall Street banks including Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) now see a bigger chance of a recession.

Healthcare, consumer staples, real estate and utilities – sectors considered as safer bets within equities – rose more than 1% each.

The S&P 500 confirmed last week it has been in a bear market, clocking a 20% loss from its January closing peak. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has shed more than 30% from its November peak.

“This is a bit of a relief rally… you could call it a dead cat bounce or a bear trap. There is more room to the downside and much more downside risk,” said Greg Swenson, founding partner of Brigg Macadam.

A survey released earlier showed U.S. business activity slowed considerably in June as high inflation and declining consumer confidence dampened demand, resulting in a gauge of new orders contracting for the first time in nearly two years.

Another set of data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits hovered near a five-month high.

Investors are also keeping an eye on comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who is testifying before the House Financial Services Committee.

He said on Wednesday the central bank is not trying to engineer a recession but is committed to bringing prices under control even if doing so risks an economic downturn.

Money markets are pricing in 75 basis point increase in rates next month, followed by a 50 basis point rise in September.

At 10:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 61.59 points, or 0.20%, at 30,544.72, the S&P 500 was up 10.48 points, or 0.28%, at 3,770.37, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 50.22 points, or 0.45%, at 11,103.30.

Occidental Petroleum Corp (NYSE:OXY) rose 1.7% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) Inc bought another 9.6 million shares of the oil company, boosting its stake to 16.3%.

Snowflake Inc climbed 8.1% after J.P. Morgan upgraded the cloud software company’s stock to “overweight” from “neutral”.

Meanwhile, U.S. corporations with big oversees operations have started to flag risks from dollar, which hit a 20-year high earlier this month.

Accenture (NYSE:ACN) Plc fell 2.1% after IT services company tempered its earnings expectations for the year due to rising inflation and a stronger dollar.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.42-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.70-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 35 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and 72 new lows.

Economy

Futures rise as easing China COVID curbs lift travel, leisure stocks

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© Reuters. A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – Travel and leisure shares propped up U.S. stock index futures after China relaxed some COVID-19 quarantine requirements for international travelers, raising hopes of a revival in global growth.

Airlines, cruises, casinos and hotels were among the gainers in premarket trading after China’s slashing of the quarantine time for inbound travelers by half boosted hopes of a big jump in international travel and spending.

Shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) Inc rose 2.5% to top the list of gainers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the company’s Shanghai Disney Resort said it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on June 30 after being shut for more than three months.

Spirit Airlines (NYSE:SAVE) and American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) Group Inc were the biggest gainers in the sector, rising 4% and 2% respectively.

Melco Resorts jumped 10% and led the rise in the casino sector, closely followed by Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) International.

Wall Street’s main indexes started the week on soft footing after worries of surging inflation and an aggressive Federal Reserve dominated sentiment amid few market moving catalysts till the start of earnings season in two weeks.

Investors are now looking at data to determine whether the economy can withstand large interest rate hikes by the U.S. central bank to stamp out inflation.

A survey from the Conference Board is expected to show its consumer confidence index slipped to a reading of 100.4 in June, from 106.4 in May, at 10 a.m. ET.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are set to post losses in June and are on course to log two straight quarterly declines for the first time since 2015.

At 6:49 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 175 points, or 0.56%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 20 points, or 0.51%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 52.25 points, or 0.43%.

Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) shed 2.8% as it forecast first-quarter revenue below estimates on expectations of more discounts and pandemic-related disruptions in China, its most profitable market.

Occidental Petroleum Corp (NYSE:OXY) climbed 3.1% after top investor Warren Buffett raised stake in the shale producer.

China ADRs also rose on Beijing easing its COVID curbs, with e-commerce firms Alibaba (NYSE:BABA).com, JD (NASDAQ:JD).com and Pinduoduo (NASDAQ:PDD) up between 1.2% and 1.4%

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Economy

Euro below $1.06 as Lagarde keeps July policy options open

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© Reuters. A shopper pays with a ten Euro bank note at a local market in Nice, France, June 7, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

By Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON (Reuters) – The Aussie and the Canadian dollar climbed on Tuesday on firmer oil prices while the euro held below $1.06 as European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde offered no fresh insight on the central bank’s policy outlook.

The ECB is widely expected to follow its global peers by raising interest rates in July to check soaring inflation though economists are divided on the magnitude of the rate hike to protect a struggling economic recovery due to high oil prices.

Oil prices are up 10% in barely a week on supply constraint concerns with Brent crude holding above $117, pushing the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar up 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. [O/R]

“Oil is helping the Norwegian crown and the Canadian dollar to outperform and the euro is again running into resistance at the 1.06 level,” said Kenneth Broux, an FX strategist at Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) in London.

The euro held below $1.06 after the ECB’s Lagarde said the central bank would move gradually but with the option to act decisively on any deterioration in medium-term inflation, especially if there were signs of a de-anchoring of inflation expectations.

Money markets are pricing in about 238 basis points (bps) of cumulative rate hikes by mid-2023 compared to around 280 bps two weeks ago.

Broader currency market moves were contained in a big week for markets in economic data terms. German inflation figures are due on Wednesday, French data on Thursday and euro zone numbers on Friday.

At the other end of the dial, higher oil prices caused the partially convertible Indian rupee to open at a record low, and fall further to 78.67 per dollar.

The U.S. dollar index struck a two-decade high of 105.79 this month and was last steady at 103.93.

Elsewhere, the offshore Chinese yuan moved higher after China reduced COVID quarantine for international travellers.

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Economy

China’s economy recovering but foundation not solid, premier says

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is seen on a screen as he attends a news conference via video link after the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s economy has recovered to some extent, but its foundation is not solid, state media on Tuesday quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying.

China will strive to drive the economy back onto a normal track and bring down the jobless rate as soon as possible, Li was quoted as saying.

“Currently, the implementation of the policy package to stabilise the economy is accelerating and taking effect. The economy has recovered on the whole, but the foundation is not yet solid,” Li was quoted as saying.

“The task of stabilising employment remains arduous.”

China’s economy showed signs of recovery in May after slumping the previous month as industrial production revived, but consumption remained weak and underlined the challenge for policymakers amid the persistent drag from strict COVID-19 curbs.

China’s nationwide survey-based jobless rate fell to 5.9% in May from 6.1% in April, still above the government’s 2022 target of below 5.5%.

In particular, the surveyed jobless rate in 31 major cities picked up to 6.9%, the highest on record. Some economists expect employment to worsen before it gets better, with a record number of graduates entering the workforce in summer.

Li vowed to achieve reasonable economic growth in the second quarter, although some private-sector economists expect the economy to shrink in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, compared with the first quarter’s 4.8% growth.

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