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Markets Retreat as Debt-Ceiling Deadline Looms

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The U.S. benchmark indices rebounded strongly from the onset of the year with the communication services, information technology, and consumer discretionary being the top-performing sectors so far in 2023. Nvidia (NVDA), the U.S. chip behemoth, gained 139% year-to-date benefiting from the demand for artificial intelligence (AI)-related chips. Netflix (NFLX) is up 28% year-to-date, Meta Platforms (META) up more than 100%, and Alphabet (GOOG) up 46%.

On the flip side, the main defensive sectors have underperformed. Utilities lost 6.79% year-to-date, the healthcare sector and the real estate investment trusts are down3.5% and 2.3% respectively, while the consumer staples sector is up 1.42.3% for the year.

In economic news, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes of the May meeting on Wednesday, which showed continued concerns over persistent inflation, a tight labour market and worries that the banking crisis that began in March may have led to tighter credit for borrowers.

Federal Reserve officials appeared confused about the trajectory of the economy, with some indicating that further interest rate hikes would be necessary, while others expressed the view that rates have reached peak levels.

According to the minutes, Fed officials generally expressed uncertainty about how much more policy tightening may be appropriate. Some participants commented that progress in returning inflation to 2% could continue to be unacceptably slow, therefore additional policy firming might be warranted. Other participants were of the view that if the economy evolved along the lines of their current outlooks, then further rate hikes may not be necessary.

Overall, the minutes did not clarify whether the Fed is done raising rates or another 25-basis point hike is on the cards when the Fed next meets in June. According to the CME FedWatch tool markets are pricing in a 67% probability that the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged at its current range of 5.00% – 5.25% in June. This uncertainty is reflected in the performance of the U.S. equity indices, which have been trading sideways over the past month.

Apart from the uncertainty around inflation, banking sector health, debt-ceiling negotiation, and future monetary policy, investors are concerned about corporate earnings. Despite the majority of companies in the S&P 500 reporting stronger than expected earnings this year, they are still on track to report a second consecutive quarter of profit declines from year-ago.

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Source: Tradingview

Therefore, given the myriad risks to the market, trading is likely to be subdued in the coming months. U.S. equity markets are set to close the week in the red, pressured by the lack of progress in U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, despite investors being confident that policymakers will reach a last-minute deal on either a comprehensive agreement or a stop-gap measure that averts a debt ceiling breach.

If the White House and Congress fail to make significant progress by this weekend, the uncertainty will exert further pressure on the stock market, while a failure to raise the debt ceiling would send financial markets into turmoil.

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Websim is the retail division of Intermonte, the primary intermediary of the Italian stock exchange for institutional investors. Leverage Shares often features in its speculative analysis based on macros/fundamentals. However, the information is published in Italian. To provide better information for our non-Italian investors, we bring to you a quick translation of the analysis they present to Italian retail investors. To ensure rapid delivery, text in the charts will not be translated. The views expressed here are of Websim. Leverage Shares in no way endorses these views. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment, please seek financial advice. View the original at

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