Key points:

  • All three major US indices (Dow Jones, S&P 500, Nasdaq) showed strong growth.
  • The leader was the S&P 500 index, which rose by 10.16%.
  • The Nikkei 225 index made multiple all-time highs throughout March.

The S&P 500 index showed moderate growth for the week on Thursday before the holidays. At the same time, this benchmark index recorded the most successful first quarter in the last five years. Investors, analyzing the latest macroeconomic data, are eagerly awaiting the release of the next inflation figures.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Japanese Nikkei stock index also closed trading higher. This was facilitated by shares of companies related to the production of semiconductors. At the end of the financial year, the Nikkei showed record growth, which was largely facilitated by large purchases from foreign investors.

The American stock market shows strong growth

All three major US stock indexes posted strong gains in the first quarter of 2024. The leader was the S&P 500 index, which rose by 10.16%. Its growth was fueled by investor optimism in artificial intelligence stocks, as well as expectations of interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve this year. The Dow Jones was less than 1% away from its first break of the 40,000 level.

Economic data released Thursday showed the U.S. economy grew faster than previously expected in the fourth quarter. This is partly due to high consumer spending. A separate report showed that the number of initial jobless claims indicates the strength of the labor market.

At the end of the day, the Dow Jones index rose 0.12%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.11%, and the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.12%. Over the week, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices rose 0.84%, 0.39% and 0.3%, respectively.

Inflation has increased

Despite the closure of US stock markets for Good Friday, investors were attentive to the release of the Personal Consumer Expenditures (PCE) price index. The measure is a key indicator of inflation for the Fed, and its reading could provide clues about the timing and extent of possible interest rate cuts this year.

Late in the evening, Fed Chairman Christopher Waller said recent disappointing inflation data indicates the need for the central bank to hold off on cutting its short-term interest rate target anytime soon. However, he did not rule out the possibility of cutting rates later this year.

Nikkei index at record high

The Nikkei 225 index has repeatedly updated its historical highs this month. On February 22, it surpassed a level last seen in 1989, during Japan’s economic bubble.

The growth of the index was facilitated by purchases from foreign investors, caused by the weakening of the yen and expectations of maintaining the accommodative monetary policy of the Bank of Japan.

At the end of the fiscal year that ended on Friday, the Nikkei 225 index rose 12,328 points, a record increase in absolute terms. The annual increase was 44%, which is the highest figure since 2021.