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Market Moves You Need to See
Kevin Matras   
Profit from the Pros
By Kevin Matras
Executive Vice President
Zacks Investment Research

Stocks End Mixed On Friday, But Up For The Week, Earnings And PCE Inflation Report On Deck This Week

Stocks closed narrowly mixed on Friday, but the big three indexes all closed higher for the week, making it 6 up weeks out of the last 7 weeks for each.

The mid-cap S&P 400 was also up for the week, making it 7 up weeks in a row for them. The small-cap Russell 2000 just missed the cut last week. But they were up the previous week when the big three were not.

Last week's FOMC minutes (from January's meeting) didn't pack any surprises. We already knew we likely weren't getting a rate cut in March. And that was essentially confirmed in the minutes. But it also showed that the Fed was pleased with how far inflation had come down, even though they still need it to come down further. And that they were still serious about cutting rates this year. Just not so sure as to when. And that they would have a deeper discussion on the timing of rate cuts at the March meeting (March 19-20).

The real fireworks, however, came last Wednesday after the close with another record quarterly earnings report from NVIDIA. There was some nervousness that the AI boom was possibly getting ahead of itself. And NVIDIA's earnings, which have come to symbolize the AI rally, would give an updated picture on where we were.

NVIDIA didn't disappoint. They posted a positive EPS surprise of 13.41%, and a positive sales surprise of 8.82%. That translated to another record quarter with a quarterly growth rate of 486% vs. this time last year, and sales growth of 265% on $22.1B in sales. Moreover, they guided above views for the current quarter with $24B in sales, an 11.73% increase over the consensus for $21.48B.

When the market opened on Thursday, shares soared, closing up by 16.4% by day's end. And it showed that the AI boom was not likely to end anytime soon.

That was also enough to lift the markets to their best one day gain in over a year. And helped catapult them to another winning week.

Earnings season continues this week with another 1,083 companies on deck to report.

And we've got another full docket of economic reports. Not the least of which is Thursday's (2/29), Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index, which is the Fed's preferred inflation gauge.

Like the CPI and PPI inflation reports that came out the other week, it's likely to show little change in inflation at best, and possibly a slight uptick at worst.

But all in all, the prevailing trend for inflation is lower. And an uptick here and there does not really change things.

Those sentiments were echoed by Austan Goolsbee, the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, when he said, "if you see inflation up a little bit, that doesn't mean that we're not on the target to get to 2%. We can still be on the path even if we have some increase and some ups and downs --- so let's not get too flipped out."

We'll see what the PCE report says on Thursday.

In the meantime, the big three indexes are at or near record highs.

And it looks like there's plenty more upside to go.

See you tomorrow,

Kevin Matras

Executive Vice President, Zacks Investment Research


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