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S&P 500 ON TRACK FOR BIGGEST QUARTERLY GAIN SINCE 2015

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DAILY MARKET REPORTS

  • During the first quarter, technology companies have led broader indexes higher.
  • The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is set to end the quarter up 9.7%, while the Dow industrials are on track to post 4.7% gains. The S&P 500 is on track to rise 5.6% for the quarter.
  • Despite a range of uncertainties across the globe including elections in Europe and fiscal policy in the U.S., the first quarter of 2017 is also set to be the least volatile in recent memory.
  • U.S. consumer spending barely rose in February.
  • Data also pointed to the biggest annual increase in inflation in nearly five years.

US FINANCIAL MARKET

Dow, DuPont Push Back Merger Date as Divestitures Begin

  • Dow and DuPont again pushed back the time frame to finish their merger, but they said the deal is still on track as DuPont moved forward with plans for divesting assets to satisfy European regulators.
  • The companies now expect the deal, which has been delayed by intense regulatory scrutiny, to close in August 2017.
  • When the pact was first announced in December 2015, it was expected to close in the second half of 2016.

BlackBerry’s profit beats expectations, shares surge

  • The smartphone pioneer’s shift to the higher-margin software business paid off, sending shares soaring more than 15%.
  • BlackBerry received more than 3,500 enterprise customer orders in the quarter, an increase of 16 percent from the last quarter.
  • Gross margin jumped to 60.1 percent in the quarter from 43.3 percent last year.
  • The company’s net loss narrowed to $47 million from $238 million a year earlier.
  • Revenue fell about 38 percent to $286 million.

Boeing’s newest, largest Dreamliner jet makes first test flight

  • Boeing’s newest and largest Dreamliner model, the 787-10, took off successfully on its first flight on Friday, kicking off a flight test program for the high-tech jet.
  • The plane, which sells for $312.8 million at list price and rounds out a family of three carbon-fiber composite Dreamliners, is being built exclusively at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.

SpaceX Lofts Commercial Satellite With Reused Rocket in Historic Flight

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched a reused booster on a demanding commercial mission Thursday.
  • By using a reused booster to place a commercial satellite into orbit, the company has crossed a milestone in revamping how businesses and governments will access the heavens in coming years, aerospace experts say.

Pimco Hires Former Blackstone Executive as Head of Private Strategies

  • Gregory Hall, who was a senior managing director at Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, will start in his new role as head of Pimco’s private-strategies group on May 1.
  • Pimco’s private strategies include investments in real estate, and corporate and distressed debt.
  • The firm named Mr. Hall a managing director.

Verizon creates new operating structure, hires former Ericsson CEO

  • Verizon said it would change its operating structure to focus on three areas, and named former Ericsson Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg to lead its newly created network and technology team.
  • Vestberg’s team will work on building out the company’s fiber network infrastructures.
  • He will initially be based in Sweden, and is expected to join the U.S.-based team later this spring.

Fracking 2.0: Shale Drillers Pioneer New Ways to Profit in Era of Cheap Oil

  • U.S. shale drillers transformed the energy industry over the past decade with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
  • Now, with oil currently trading near $50 a barrel, these producers are trying to unleash fracking 2.0, the next step in the technological transformation of the sector that is aimed at extracting oil even faster and less expensively to eke out profits at that level.

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US ECONOMY & POLITICS

Consumer Inflation Tops Fed’s Target

  • The personal-consumption expenditures price (PCE) index, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in February from the prior month and climbed 2.1% from a year earlier.
  • Excluding the often-volatile categories of food and energy, core prices increased 0.2% in February from January, and rose 1.8% from a year earlier.

Consumer confidence unexpectedly falls

  • Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in March, according to the final report from the University of Michigan.
  • The consumer sentiment index fell to 96.9 from preliminary 97.6 in the final March survey.

Fed could promptly begin shedding bonds this year: Dudley

  • The Federal Reserve could begin shrinking its $4.5-trillion balance sheet as soon as this year, earlier than most economists expect, New York Fed President William Dudley said.
  • The Fed’s official plan is to begin letting the bonds naturally roll off – not sell them – once its interest rate hikes are “well underway”.
  • Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and John Williams of the San Francisco Fed have also backed shrinking the portfolio this year.

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EUROPE & WORLD

U.K. Consumers Remain in Glum Mood

  • U. K. consumer confidence was unchanged in March compared with the previous month.
  • The long-running barometer of consumer confidence stood at minus 6 in February, same as the previous month.

Chinese Factories Humming ‘at Peak of Recovery’

  • China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index edged up to 51.8 in March from 51.6 in February.
  • The March reading, slightly above expectations, has remained above the 50 mark separating expansion from contraction for eight straight months.

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TODAY in HISTORY

  • Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain expelled Jews who would not accept Christianity (1492)
  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris officially opened (1889)
  • The United States took possession of the Virgin Islands (1917)
  • Daylight Saving Time went into effect in the United States (1918)

This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation is being made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information provided should be used only as general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in the material may not develop as predicted. All indices, such as the S&P 500, are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal.

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