Written by Ilaria Massei.

Last Friday, we saw US stocks hit a nine-month high thanks to encouraging talks on debt ceiling and tech sector gains. The NASDAQ 100 rose 4.5% last week in GBP terms, boosted by the rally experienced by AI related stocks. There have only been a handful of stocks in the mega-cap market range that have led this rally in tech stocks. These include the likes of Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and NVIDIA. Last Thursday, shares of the chipmaker NVIDIA jumped 24%, making the company the sixth most highly valued public company in the world. Shares rose after the company beat consensus first-quarter earnings expectations by a wide margin and raised its profit outlook.

This extraordinary performance resurfaced the topic of narrow leadership in the US stock market, whereby fewer and fewer US tech stocks contribute to the broad index level return. Another crucial topic last week was the debt ceiling talks where policymakers delivered some encouraging news, signalling that they were working on a deal to raise the debt ceiling before the June deadline to avoid an unprecedented default. Meanwhile, the core (less food and energy) personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, rose by 0.4% in April, a tick above expectations.

Elsewhere, data released last Thursday signalled that the German economy fell into a recession in the first quarter, due to persistent high price increases and a surge in borrowing costs. GDP shrank 0.3% in the three months through March, a downward revision from an early estimate of zero growth. However, European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers’ view is that interest rates would need to rise further and stay high to curb inflation in the medium term, potentially deteriorating the economy further.

The MSCI Japan declined to -1.1% last week in GBP terms but encouraging data released last week saw Japanese manufacturing activity expanding for the first time in seven months in May. The services sector also reported robust growth, as the reopening of the country to tourism led to a record rise in business activity.

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