Sun comes back out on Wall Street

US stocks are going from strength to strength as improved data drives confidence. Marina Gerner reports.

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For now, the drinks are on the house

Pgiam

"Over the past six months, the stockmarket has gone from inconsolable to imperturbable," says Michael Santoli on CNBC. The S&P 500 is just shy of its record high of last September. Wall Street tends to set the tone for global equities, so it's no wonder the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index is at a seven-month high.

This is partly due to improved data. After last year's wobble, the US economy is regaining its strength. "Mortgage applications... and durable goods orders indicate a steadying of the ship," saysTan Kai Xian in a Gavekal Research note. In other positive news, both Chinese and US manufacturing data have improved. The two superpowers may also be on the verge of a trade deal, another development fuelling confidence.

What's more, the section of the yield curve that briefly inverted (a signal of recession, as we noted last week) is back to normal again. US employment continues to be strong with 180,000 jobs created in March, and an unemployment rate of 3.8%, the lowest level since 1969. Average hourly wages have grown 3.4% year-on-year, which bodes well for consumption.

Earnings are expected to bounce

Goldilocks is back

For now, then, a strengthening US economy and a dovish Fed bode well for US and global liquidity. "Eventually the central bank could take the punchbowl away, but for now the drinks are on the house." So the US-led global stockmarket rally looks set to keep going. Expect small caps to lead the way, says Xian: they tend to do best in a recovery phase with a steepening yield curve.

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