Dancing on the Ceiling

In recent days, a variety of technology stocks have surged as a result of robust earnings reports. Microsoft's impressive cloud and AI performance have been particularly noteworthy, leading to a ~8% increase in its stock value. The company was on the verge of breaking its single-day record for market capitalization growth.

In contrast, cryptocurrency markets have experienced a far more substantial upswing than equities over the past few days. Bitcoin has once again spearheaded the crypto rally, as expectations for future rate hikes dropped substantially due to continuing cracks in the regional banking system. However, this time, the change in the narrative was triggered by a larger-than-anticipated decline in deposits for First Republic (FRC), which has inflicted severe damage on FRC’s balance sheet and will be difficult to overcome. On Tuesday, FRC's stock plunged by about 49%, followed by another 25% drop on Wednesday morning.

In other news, the ongoing U.S. debt ceiling crisis presents a compelling and potentially precarious situation that warrants close attention. Earlier in January, the U.S. government reached its borrowing limit and has since relied on "extraordinary measures" to manage its cash flow due to the absence of new treasury issuances. As a result, the Treasury's cash balance has been steadily decreasing this year, and financial markets are becoming increasingly concerned as funds are expected to run out by June, potentially leading the government to default on its debt obligations. This scenario merits close monitoring, as evidence suggests that a technical default could trigger contagion effects, which, in a worst-case scenario, could potentially double the U.S. unemployment rate to around 7%. Furthermore, a divided Congress will make raising the debt ceiling particularly challenging for Democrats unless compromises are reached. Market apprehensions are evident in soaring credit default swap spreads—an indicator of the cost to protect against a U.S. government default—as well as the spread between 1-month and 3-month Treasury Bill yields (approximately 3.4% vs around 5.1%) widening. Recently investors have sought 1-month Treasury Bills that mature before the predicted exhaustion of government funds, causing the price of 1-month Bills to rise and their yield to fall.

From a technical standpoint, Bitcoin has experienced a minor pullback from its local top of around 31 ,000 and has since tested the 50-day moving average before regaining some bullish momentum. In the event of another pullback, traders will likely watch for the 50-day moving average to serve as support once again. MA9 and MA50 are also beginning to converge, with a potential crossing of MA9 below MA50 imminent. This would be a bearish signal. When MA9 previously crossed above MA50, Bitcoin gained significant momentum, underscoring the importance of a potential crossing of MA9 below MA50.

Looking ahead, key dates to monitor include May 3rd and 4th, when the upcoming FOMC meeting is scheduled. The Federal Reserve has already hinted at a further 25 basis point hike, which the market has likely priced in. Nonetheless, exercising caution is advisable, as the Fed may take unexpected actions during this meeting.


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