Stock Market Futures Gain Ahead Of Federal Reserve’s Latest Update On Monetary Policy
U.S. stock futures are in the green in early morning trading at the midweek mark. This seems to be the case as investors respond to a slightly lower than expected read from February’s producer price index (PPI). In brief, the PPI rose 0.8% throughout the month, just below consensus economist estimates of a 0.9% increase. More importantly, most would also be closely eyeing the Federal Reserve for its latest policy update later today. This would include the Fed’s latest decision on interest rate hikes and its Summary of Economic Projections, or “dot plot” for short.
Providing an overview on all this is Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Investment Management’s chief investment officer, Michael Kushma. He believes that “the dot plot should increase given all the news that we’ve had between December and today.” Providing his reasoning for this, Kushma continues, “We’ve got a strong labor market, higher than expected inflation. Oil prices, energy prices, commodity prices are much higher now than they were back then. All of it suggests that the Fed needs to get going, and that they need to up the dot plot. So, I think they’ll talk about the mean, maybe five rate hikes in 2022, and a couple more in 2023.” On top of that, there is also no shortage of stock market news as well. As of 6:18 a.m. ET, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq futures are trading higher by 1.10%, 1.29%, and 1.87% respectively.
Intel To Invest $36 Billion In Chip Manufacturing Operations In Europe
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is among the top head turners in the tech space today. For the most part, this is thanks to the company’s latest announcements regarding its European strategy. As of yesterday, Intel is now planning to shell out over $36 billion to boost its chipmaking capacity in Europe. This move would be in line with the company’s transition toward becoming more self-reliant when it comes to producing semiconductors. In the larger scheme of things, Intel’s current play is not all that surprising. This is the case as global chip shortages are persisting and chip giants rush to bolster their production lines.
In detail, among the key focuses of this round of investments is constructing two new factories in Magdeburg, Germany. According to Intel, the facilities will employ its cutting-edge chip manufacturing tech. The likes of which will help in the creation of chips that are less than two nanometers in width. By the company’s current estimates, the construction of these chip plants will begin in the first half of 2023. Should things go smoothly on the construction and regulatory fronts, Intel expects the factories to be production-ready by 2027.
Explaining its choice of location, Intel believes that Germany is a suitable place to establish a new “Silicon Junction,” mega-site. The company cites the robust talent and infrastructure at hand in the region. Alongside this, there is also an impressive network of suppliers and customers as well. Moreover, Intel is also considering a series of R&D projects across France, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and Italy. Topping all of this, the European Commission’s executive arm also recently launched a new European Chips Act last month. In essence, Europe is enabling another $16.45 billion in public and private investments into the industry through 2030.
At the same time, tech companies like Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB) are currently eyeing the next frontier of blockchain tech. Namely, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram is actively working on introducing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to the platform. At the South by Southwest conference yesterday, Zuckerberg revealed that NFTs are coming to Instagram in the “near term.” Although the CEO did not reveal Meta’s entire plan for it, this could see FB stock gain attention from tech investors. After all, NFTs essentially serve as another means of monetizing content digitally. With Meta’s experience in the online marketplace business, such a move would make sense as it appeals to younger audiences.
For one thing, this would not be the first time Meta has been linked to NFTs. Back in January, a report from the Financial Times wrote that the company is developing plans to let users create and sell NFTs. Officially, Zuckerberg only spilled the tea on Instagram’s possible NFT plans. However, it would not be a far cry to assume that Meta would be keen to bring similar services to its massive Facebook platform as well. All in all, Meta does not seem to be sitting idly by as it explores all reaches of the metaverse. Whether FB stock can benefit from this, in the long run, remains to be seen.
CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz On Rising Cyberthreats Amidst Ukraine-Russia War
In other tech-related news, things appear to be heating up on the cybersecurity front as well. Notably, the current update on the industry comes from CrowdStrike (NASDAQ: CRWD) CEO George Kurtz. In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Kurtz warns that cybercriminal activity is on the rise. This comes at a time when the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to take its toll on global economies. In Kurtz’s own words, “E-crime is actually up since the war in Ukraine started.” To put things into perspective, this information comes from CrowdStrike’s threat intelligence unit. The likes of which provide visibility and insights from across 176 countries.
According to the CEO, nation-state actors, particularly Russian hackers, are gaining all the attention now. So much so that e-criminals elsewhere are leveraging the current distractions to double down on their activities. To point out, this would be a grim follow-up from Kurtz’s last interview with Cramer late last month. In which he pointed out that some of the top banking executives are already cautious about cyberattacks on national banks. Overall, it seems that demand for cybersecurity services could continue to grow in our increasingly tech-dependent world. With that in mind, investors may want to consider watching CRWD stock among other cybersecurity stocks now.
AbbVie In Focus As Shares Trade At Record Highs Following Numerous Positive Developments
AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) seems to be in the midst of a hot streak in the stock market now. Evidently, ABBV stock is currently trading at around record levels. Year-to-date, the company’s shares have already risen by about 15%. By and large, these gains follow a string of operational wins for AbbVie. For starters, AbbVie completed its acquisition of Syndesi Therapeutics earlier this month. Through its portfolio of novel synaptic modulator candidates, AbbVie would, in theory, be significantly bolstering its neuroscience arm.
Additionally, the company is also actively working on collaborations to develop antiviral COVID-19 and neuropsychiatric diseases treatments. For the former, it is working with Scripps Research, an independent biomedical research, and drug discovery institute. Regarding the latter, AbbVie is working with Gedeon Richter, a major European pharmaceutical player. Worth mentioning, all of these developments are from just this month. With AbbVie seemingly firing on all cylinders, it is no wonder that investors are keen on ABBV stock now.
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