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Ahead of Wall Street

Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Pre-market futures are up again this morning, albeit more tepidly than we saw yesterday and post NVIDIA NVDA earnings from Wednesday’s after-market activity. We haven’t seen one company’s quarterly results dominate discussions on Wall Street like this since Steve Jobs was still running Apple AAPL — in the early part of the week, all eyes were on how NVIDIA would perform (with traders taking a little air out of the balloon in case it didn’t beat as impressively as expected), and since then we’ve been off to the races — the time in the spotlight as the “world’s most important company” continues.

As a result, we’re up roughly +0.14% on the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500, with only the small-cap Russell 2000 currently -0.05%. We’re at monthly, year-to-date and all-time highs on all but the Russell; as we noticed in late 2023, the small-cap index was the laggard to strong market growth elsewhere, but it roared to life and became the fastest grower in November and December of last year. When small-caps join the rally, it’s a good sign that the economy overall is doing well.

We have no major economic prints ahead of the bell on this final trading day of the week, though next week brings us the all-important Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report for January, which is cited by name by Fed Chair Jay Powell when discussing what data the Fed considers before making interest rate decisions. PCE data is also fed-into by other economic reports through the month, which reduces the likelihood of month-over-month revisions. Last month, core PCE year over year went sub-3% for the first time in almost three years.

Q4 earnings season also “feels” over, with all of the Magnificent 7 stocks having reported for the quarter (NVIDIA was the last one). However, though most marquee names and the heavy traffic of reportage drops off notably as of now, we’ll still get to hear from Hewlett Packard HPQHPE and Salesforce CRM next week, and CrowdStrike CRWD, Broadcom AVGO and Costco COST the following week.

Ahead of the bell today, media entertainment conglomerate Warner Brothers Discovery WBD missed bottom line expectations by 5 cents per share to a loss of -16 cents in its Q4, while revenues of $10.28 billion was slightly above the Zacks consensus. This quarter was fairly anomalous, in that the writers/actors strike impeded content development, which kept costs way down. WBD now has $6.16 billion in free cash flow for full-year 2024, though the company also carries $44 billion of debt. Shares are trading down -5% in pre-market activity.

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