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Microsoft's AI Coup Unfolds

Plus500 | Tuesday 21 November 2023

The trading week opened with a certain sense of optimism on Monday as traders pushed New York Indices upward and Microsoft shares reached an all-time high.

an illustration of an ai chip

Monday’s Market Rally

The U.S. stock market surged on Monday, November 20th, pulling the S&P 500 (USA 500) out of a correction before Thanksgiving. In just a little over two weeks, the index rebounded from its 10% dip, marking one of its fastest recoveries in a decade. This resurgence has been attributed to declining yields on longer-duration bonds, specifically the 10-year and 30-year Treasury yields dropping from a 16-year high in October to their lowest in two months. Lower bond yields often drive stocks up as they indicate less costly borrowing for various market actors from the common citizen to government bodies.

Despite positive earnings reports seen recently, it seems that one of the primary drivers behind the market's rise is the declining yields rather than outstanding company performance. Investors have been interpreting these yield fluctuations as potential signs of a slowing economy and easing inflation, hinting that the Federal Reserve might halt interest rate hikes and even consider rate cuts in the coming year.

However, some caution prevailed as the market had already surged nearly 10% in three weeks, positioning the S&P 500 close to its previous high. Analysts expressed concerns about potential market reactions to increasingly expensive equities, hinting that Fed officials might adopt a tougher stance on interest rates in response.

However, a key worry highlighted by certain analysts was the sustainability of consumer spending amidst rising borrowing costs. Although a bear market may not be in the cards according to some analysts, challenges in consumers' ability to maintain spending habits with expensive credit could be ahead as we move toward the end of the year.

In essence, the market saw a swift recovery driven by declining bond yields, sparking optimism about a potentially dovish Fed stance. However, concerns lingered about the sustainability of the market's growth amidst expensive borrowing and potential limitations on consumer spending. 

In the final accounting, the S&P 500 rose 0.7% by the time the closing bell rang on Monday, while the Nasdaq (US-TECH 100) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (USA 30) marked jumps of 1.1% and almost 0.6% respectively, with the former two Indices whole hitting their highest values in months. While this was worthy of note, one big name in tech stood out from the crowd on Monday.

Microsoft Marks AI Coup

Over the weekend, the unexpected departure of CEO Sam Altman from OpenAI created waves in the tech industry, with the end result being him joining Microsoft to head a new advanced AI research team alongside co-founder Greg Brockman. While reports emerged that the deal with Microsoft was not yet official, some viewed this move as a major win for Microsoft, positioning them to maintain leadership in generative Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Following the news on Monday, Microsoft's (MSFT) stock rose 2.1% to reach an all-time high. Initially, the announcement of Altman's departure from OpenAI had caused a slight dip in Microsoft's stock.

There are lingering concerns among investors about the uncertainty at OpenAI impacting Microsoft, especially regarding Azure cloud services, previously utilised by OpenAI. However, some analysts believe that with Altman on board, any fundamental risk to Microsoft is contained, potentially leading to better outcomes in the long run.

Several analysts see this move as advantageous for Microsoft, highlighting the difficulty in finding top talent in the generative AI field. They anticipate Microsoft becoming a prime destination for such talent, possibly widening the gap between Microsoft and its competitors.

Despite the aftershocks felt at OpenAI, with more than 500 employees expressing concerns to the board, some experts view this new team at Microsoft as capable of making immediate impactful contributions, preserving Microsoft's AI product roadmap and competing strongly against other generative AI startups and Google DeepMind. Overall, analysts largely view the addition of Altman and his team to Microsoft as a strategic advantage, potentially solidifying Microsoft's position in the AI landscape. (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Conclusion

Shifts have not ceased to hit markets even as we move toward the end of the year. Whether the trends that characterised the beginning of this trading week will be continued in the coming days remains to be seen; traders will need to keep their eyes peeled. 


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