U.S. Equity markets surged led again the big tech cap stocks. The NASDAQ 100 closed higher by a huge 1.84% while the VIX fell a further 5%, closing at a price of 16.05. President Joe Biden said that he was confident an agreement would be reached that would avoid a default on the country’s debt. The expressed optimism came on the same day JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon also struck a positive tone saying the U.S. ‘probably’ won’t face a default. Walmart (WMT) raised its annual sales and profit targets following strong first quarter results which topped expectations. The retailer cited significant trade-down effects from consumers who are seeking lower prices as the primary driver of sustained demand. The strong results are in stark contrast to the trend we have been seeing in the retail industry this week. IBM (IBM) and Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL) pledged $150 million to the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo for quantum-computing research. The deal is a result of a renewed commitment by both the U.S. and Japan to maintain its place as global leaders ahead of the threat of an emergent Chinese sector. Cisco Systems (CSCO) raised its full-year profit forecast, citing it believes that demand will remain strong for its networking solutions. The company also noted that significant strides were made to solve supply chain issues that were plaguing customer commitments. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt became the latest artificial intelligence (“AI”) expert to warn the U.S. of China’s growing usage of AI for military use. In his testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Schmidt said that if the U.S. does not fully embrace the new technology into its national defense plans that it risks falling behind China as a military power. According to Moody Analytics, commercial real estate prices fell in the first quarter for the first time in over a decade. The decline was led by a steep drop in multi-family residences and office buildings – which are still struggling with high vacancy rates due to pandemic effects. Mark Zandi, Moody Analytics’ chief economist, warned that this is just the start of further price declines. European Markets closed higher. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that industrial food producers have agreed to come to the table with major supermarkets to renegotiate pricing structures. The decision comes because of immense pressure from the French government to find a solution that would ease inflation pressures on consumers. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov admitted that Russia is struggling to combat gas and oil price caps put into place by western nations. Energy revenues have fallen to their lowest levels in years due to steep discounts taken as part of a measure to circumvent energy sanctions. In Asia, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is considering the implementation of stricter export controls and restrictions on investment in China. The decision would mirror a similar move taken by U.S. President Joe Biden. While the U.S. has been the most aggressive in its sanctions against China, it appears that European allies and fellow G-7 nations are slowly joining the efforts by the U.S. to maintain economic dominance in the west. Elsewhere Oil fell 1.33% while Gold was slammed, closing lower by 1.50%.
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