U.S. Equity Markets eventually closed higher following a volatile trading session. The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey for February showed that factory activity declined for the first time since May 2020. The production index recorded a modest contraction in output, falling from 0.2 in January to -2.8 this month. January’s Durable Goods’ Orders fell 4.5% month over month, largely reversing December gains and marking the biggest decline since April 2020. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNOW Forecast for first-Quarter Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) growth rose from 2.5% to 2.7% on upward revisions to private investment and personal consumption growth. This week holds the bulk of retail earnings with the likes of Costco Wholesale (COST), Target (TGT), Lowe’s (LOW), Best Buy (BBY), Dollar Tree (DLTR), Ross Stores (ROST), Macy’s (M), and more. Results should provide investors with an updated look at consumer spending power and how inflation affected the 2022 holiday spending season. Fed Governor Philip Jefferson defended the 2% inflation target and refuted any claims that the central bank was considering altering the long-accepted economic target. Within the S&P 500 Index, seven of the 11 sectors finished higher. European Markets closed higher. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck a deal today regarding new arrangements for Northern Ireland, a major boost for trade and continued relations. ECB President Christine Lagarde reiterated it’s very likely to move forward with a 50-basis-point rate hike in March to cool inflation growth, while Council member Ignazio Visco said it will raise interest rates as much as necessary to bring inflation back to its 2% target. Euro-Zone Consumer Confidence missed expectations for February, as consumers’ concerns over inflation and a recession are still persistent. In Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on domestic companies to raise employees’ wages, potentially stoking inflation and boosting the need for future interest rate hikes. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration has acquired information showing China is preparing to provide “lethal support” for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Bank of Korea Governor Rhee Chang-yong said the central bank stands ready to act if Federal Reserve rate hikes were to weigh on the Won’s value and boost inflation. Elsewhere, Oil fell 0.76% while Gold rose 0.39%.
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