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    Thursday, April 18, 2024

    Stock market today: World markets higher as US government debt talks said to make headway

    World markets were mostly higher Friday, lifted by optimism that Congress and the president will strike a deal to unlock a vote for lifting the U.S. government’s debt ceiling and avert a potentially calamitous default.

    U.S. futures and oil prices were little changed.

    Officials said President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were narrowing in on a two-year budget deal that could unlock a vote for lifting the nation’s debt ceiling. The Democratic president and Republican speaker hope to strike a budget compromise this weekend.

    A two-year deal would raise the debt limit for that time, past the 2024 presidential election. As their price for raising the legal debt limit, Republicans have been demanding spending cuts the Democrats oppose.

    Germany's DAX slipped 0.1% to 15,785.97 while the CAC 40 in Paris was up just over 1 point at 7,231.25. Britain's FTSE 100 was also little changed, gaining 2 points to 7,573.21.

    On Wall Street, the futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down less than 0.1%.

    On Thursday, the S&P 500 rallied 0.9% to 4,151.28 after chipmaker Nvidia gave a monster forecast for upcoming sales as it benefits from the tech world’s rush into AI. The Nasdaq leaped 1.7%, while the Dow industrials slipped 0.1%.

    Stocks of other chip makers also charged higher after Nvidia described a race by its customers to put AI “into every product, service and business process.” Advanced Micro Devices gained 11.2%.

    The enthusiasm carried over to Asia, where Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.7% to 31,019.61. In Seoul, the Kospi climbed 0.2% to 2,558.81, helped by a 2.2% rise in the share price for Samsung Electronics, South Korea's biggest company.

    The Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% to 3,212.50, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney also was 0.2% higher, at 7,154.80.

    Because it’s one of Wall Street’s most valuable stocks, Nvidia’s 24.4% surge on Thursday was the strongest force pushing upward on the S&P 500. Its forecast of roughly $11 billion in revenue for the current quarter blew past analysts’ expectations for less than $7.2 billion. Nvidia’s stock has already more than doubled this year, and its total value is approaching $1 trillion.

    Some other Big Tech stocks rallied, adding to recent gains fueled by excitement about AI. The field has become so hot that critics warn of a possible bubble, while supporters say it could be the latest revolution to reshape the global economy. Microsoft gained 3.8%, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rose 2.1%.

    “Although no one questions the potential of AI, the valuations seem to have gone ahead of themselves and it could soon be time for correction,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya of Swissquote said in a commentary.

    The majority of stocks fell on worries that Washington could run out of cash to pay its bills as soon as June 1, unless Congress allows it to borrow more.

    The widespread expectation is for a compromise before it’s too late, as has happened dozens of times before, because a failure would likely be awful for the economy.

    Fitch said late Wednesday that it could downgrade the U.S. government’s “AAA” credit rating, though it said it still expects a resolution before the U.S. Treasury runs out of cash.

    In other trading Friday, benchmark U.S. crude oil reversed an early retreat, picking up 16 cents to $71.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It sank $2.51 on Thursday to $71.83 per barrel.

    Brent crude, the international standard, rose 6 cents to $76.24 per barrel.

    The U.S. dollar fell to 139.73 Japanese yen from 140.07 yen. The euro rose to $1.0732 from $1.0726.

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