Morning Bid: March markets serene as Q1 peters out

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Morning Bid: March markets serene as Q1 peters out

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

Investors appear happy to sit on punchy first quarter stock gains as March drifts to quiet finish, with the dollar back under wraps overseas, interest rate markets calm and volatility subdued into the Easter break for many countries.

A slightly downbeat Monday was a mixed bag of fortunes all told.

Under-pressure planemaker Boeing (NYSE: BA ) popped more than 1% after announcing a broad management shake-up and saying CEO Dave Calhoun would step down from his position at the end of 2024.

Artificial intelligence leaders Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA ) and Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU ) pushed higher, but reports China is set to phase out U.S. microprocessors supplied by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) and AMD (NASDAQ: AMD ) from government personal computers and servers knocked those stocks back.

A decent two-year Treasury auction kept a lid on bond yields, while Federal Reserve officials offered a smorgasbord of different views on the policy outlook that shifted little in futures market expectations.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes unexpectedly fell in February after mortgage rates increased during the month, but the underlying trend remained strong amid a chronic shortage of previously owned houses on the market.

With stock markets closed for Good Friday's release of the February PCE inflation gauge, a March consumer confidence readout later today may grab attention.

Elsewhere, bitcoin jumped back above $70,000 on Monday for the first time since March 15 - with little obvious news behind it, as is so often the case. It held those gains overnight and was hovering about $71,000 early on Tuesday.

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust recorded $1.9 billion in outflows last week, tipping the group of U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds into net outflows for the week ending March 22, according to data from BitMEX Research.

Overseas, China stocks rebounded about 0.5% and the offshore yuan firmed another notch after last week's swoon.

China's President Xi Jinping will meet with American business leaders in Beijing on Wednesday, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter, in a follow up to his November dinner with U.S. investors in San Francisco.

The meeting was proposed by chief executive of U.S. insurer Chubb (NYSE: CB ), Evan Greenberg, according to one source. Other attendees include Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

Japanese and European stock markets were flat, as were crude oil prices. U.S. stock futures were marginally higher ahead of the open - with Q1's 10% gains in the S&P500 and Nasdaq holding and implied volatility in stocks and bonds subdued.

The dollar edged back further from Friday's one-month highs. Dollar/yen ebbed a touch amid wariness about Bank of Japan intervention, but held above the 151 level.

In politics, a New York judge's decision on Monday to set an April 15 trial date for Donald Trump's criminal hush-money case ups the odds the former president will face at least one verdict that could complicate his bid to retake the White House.

And in shocking general news, Baltimore's 1.6-mile Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed and vehicles plunged into the river early on Tuesday after a ship collided with a support pylon. Rescuers were searching the water for survivors.

Key diary items that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Tuesday:

* US March consumer confidence, Feb durable goods orders, Richmond Fed March business survey, Dallas Fed March service sector survey, Philadelphia Fed service sector survey, US Jan house prices

* European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane speaks

* US corporate earnings: McCormick (NYSE: MKC )

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., August 15, 2023.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

* US Treasury sells 5-year notes

* French President Emmanuel Macron visits Brazil

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Christina Fincher, mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com)

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