Wall Street is upbeat: hopes for rate cuts boost stocks


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U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday after disappointing weekly jobless claims data raised the possibility of early interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve (Fed).

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has given few clues related to rate cuts as the non-farm payrolls report approaches.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased more than the previous week’s estimate, as released Thursday, with claims rising by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 221,000 for the week ending March 30. These numbers were above the expected 214,000.

Claims had been between 212,000 and 210,000 for most of March, and this increase signals that market conditions are becoming more fragile.

Investors have been concerned that stronger-than-expected economic data and inflation will prevent the Fed from starting its expected cycle of interest rate cuts soon.

Yesterday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell announced that while the Fed was in no rush to cut interest rates this year, he did not clarify the timing or extent of possible cuts.

The weak initial claims data comes just days ahead of the expected release of nonfarm payrolls for March tomorrow, Friday.

More officials are on the same page

Other Fed officials are set to speak later on Thursday.

FOMC members Thomas Barkin and Michelle Bowman will speak after the market close and investors will be watching to gauge their feelings to see if they continue on the same path, which is most likely to be in no rush to cut rates.

Levis Strauss stock soars

In other stock news, Levi Strauss (LEVI) surged more than 14% after the apparel retailer raised its annual earnings guidance after posting stronger-than-estimated quarterly results. Nikola stock climbed more than 7% as the electric vehicle maker surpassed expectations for deliveries of its large hydrogen trucks during the first quarter, with Conagra Brands gaining 7% on solid consumer demand for its basic pantry and frozen food products.

This rise occurred as U.S. manufacturing production remained near record highs, a trend hoped to somewhat offset the tight prospects for oil markets.

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