Dollar Dips, Jobless Claims, TSM Spending Spree, OPEC+ - What's Moving Markets

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Dollar Dips, Jobless Claims, TSM Spending Spree, OPEC+ - What's Moving Markets
Credit: © Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith -- The dollar and U.S. bond yields dip after President Joe Biden outlines plans to raise corporate taxes and spend big on infrastructure. Weekly U.S. jobless claims are due, while manufacturing in Europe is enjoying the global rebound. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) gets a $22 billion order from the U.S. army, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is going on a $100 billion spending spree to fix the world's chip shortage. OPEC meets with Russia and others to hammer out a production policy for May. Here's what you need to know in financial markets  Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, April 1st.

1. Dollar, bond yields slip after Biden flags tax hikes to fund spending plans

The U.S. dollar slipped from recent highs, with U.S. Treasury bond yields easing in parallel, after President Joe Biden flagged his intention to raise the corporate income tax to 28% over the medium term to help fund some $2.25 trillion of infrastructure spending plans.

Biden’s tax plans also include an increase in the tax rate applied to foreign earnings from 10% to 21%, something that will disproportionately hit some of the biggest U.S. companies such as Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ). 

The plans will face opposition from Senate Republicans, but may avert a potentially expensive dispute with Europe, which prepared a raft of ‘digital service taxes’ on Internet companies after the Trump administration effectively abandoned an international project working on a new framework for the taxation of multinational companies.

2. U.S. jobless claims due; Europe manufacturing in overdrive

After the leap in private hiring reported by ADP on Wednesday, the week’s jobless claims numbers will shed more light on how quickly the labor market is healing as states and cities lift their restrictions on business and social gatherings.

Analysts expect initial jobless claims to have edged down to 680,000 last week, from the previous week’s post-pandemic low of 684,000.

Also due later is the final Institute of Supply Management business survey for March. Earlier, the Eurozone manufacturing PMI was revised fractionally higher to a fresh all-time high of 62.5 from 62.4, while the U.K. manufacturing PMI was revised to 58.9 , its highest in over 10 years. Services may not fare quite as brightly however, after France re-imposed a national lockdown for another month. The Euro Stoxx 50 , DAX and AEX all hit all-time highs.

3. Stocks set to open higher, with tech back in favor

U.S. stock markets are set to start the new quarter in positive fashion, with the tech sector back in favor as long-term interest rates ease.

By 6:30 AM ET (1030 GMT), Dow Jones futures were up 16 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures were up 0.3% and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.9%.

Stocks in focus later are likely to include Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ), in the wake of its securing a $22 billion, 10-year deal contract from the U.S. army for augmented reality headsets based on its HoloLens technology.

Also in focus will be Discovery  (NASDAQ: DISCB ), whose B class stock rose 82% in one of the aftershocks of the Archegos firesale on Wednesday, and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ), whose Google unit told staff it wants to start bringing them back into the office this month.  Cruise liner operator Carnival (NYSE: CUK ) reports earnings before the open.

4. TSMC to spend $100 billion on expanding capacity

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing said it plans to spend $100 billion over the next three years to expand its chipmaking capacity, the most dramatic answer yet to the global shortage of semiconductors that has squeezed manufacturers across the world this year.

The company had already planned to spend $28 billion this year in developing capacity to meet a sustained rise in demand due to the increasing automation of life and the spread of 5G technology. That surge, combined with the effects of a pandemic that has accelerated demand for high-tech goods of all stripes, is forcing carmakers and others to idle production.

TSMC also said it would suspend price cuts for its silicon wafers for a year from 2022. TSM (NYSE: TSM ) shares were up 2.8% in premarket trading, while the share prices of its suppliers, such as Dutch-based ASML (AS: ASML ), leaped in Asian and European trading. 

Semiconductor stocks were also supported by strong earnings and guidance from Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU ) after the bell on Wednesday.

5 OPEC+ to seal output deal

A day after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met to coordinate its position, the world’s biggest producers will meet again to decide on output levels for May.

Reuters reported that the meeting is set to discuss two options: one would be to freeze output at current levels, and another to raise it by 500,000 barrels a day. Russia and Kazakhstan, who aren’t OPEC members, are understood to support the latter option, while Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members would reportedly prefer the former.

The meeting is set to start at 9 AM ET (1300 GMT).

By 6:30 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were up 2.1% at $60.39, while Brent crude was up 1.9% at $63.90 a barrel.

Elsewhere, Baker Hughes will release its rig count data a day early due to the Easter holiday.

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