Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures up 0.7% to 7,119.00
  • Dow Average up 0.9% to 32,700.38
  • Aussie down 0.4% to 0.6680 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield little changed at 3.5658%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield little changed at 2.91%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield fell 1.5 bps to 3.28%
  • Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,963.46
  • Brent futures down 0.4% to $78.32/bbl

Economic Events

  • 10:30: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 70-Day Bills
  • 10:30: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 98-Day Bills
  • 10:30: (AU) Australia to Sell A$500 Million 161-Day Bills
  • 11:30: (AU) Feb. Job Vacancies QoQ, prior -4.9%

Weaker-than-expected inflation means the Reserve Bank of Australia is now very likely to hit pause on rates when it meets on April 4, according to Bloomberg Economics.

US stocks advanced as risk appetite continued to recover from turmoil in the banking sector, led by gains in technology and financial shares.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 entered a bull market, rising 20% from a December low. The S&P 500 powered back above 4,000, with 92% of components ending higher — the first time that has happened in 2023, according to Susquehanna. Meanwhile, the Cboe Volatility index closed at the lowest in three weeks.

US Treasuries were little changed and the dollar strengthened as investors digested the latest remarks by Fed officials and looked ahead to core PCE data for the clues on how the Fed’s path for interest rates might change after turbulence in the financial sector upended market expectations.

Financial stocks were hit hard by the collapse of three US banks this month but were able to stage a rally Wednesday, even after a report the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was mulling a squeeze on big banks to help cover the almost $23 billion in costs from the bank failures.

Wall Street strategist are struggling to predict how US stocks might react in the months ahead, given the uncertainty of the Fed’s path forward. Their average year-end target for the S&P 500 has stayed at 4,050 for a third straight month in a streak of inaction not seen since 2005.

Other News

Godless technology has made a mockery of papal regalia — and gullible social media users.

Pope Francis stunned viewers over the weekend after seemingly stepping out in an especially unorthodox outfit, as an image of the 86-year-old religious leader sporting a long white puffer jacket, designed by luxe fashion house Balenciaga, quickly went viral.

Internet users took the picture to be as true as the word of God itself — and lauded the Pope for his fashionable choice.

“The boys in Brooklyn could only hope for this level of drip,” the supreme pontiff’s puffy coat was captioned on Twitter. It has more than 20.3 million views and, now, a flag stating that it’s fake.

Portraits to follow captured Francis in sleek white gloves and pristine white sneakers — perhaps not a far cry from the Pope’s typically elevated uniform, but totally fake nonetheless.

The alleged artificial intelligence artist has been identified as Pablo Xavier, a 31-year-old construction worker from the Chicago area, Buzzfeed News reported on Monday. Pablo Xavier, who declined to share his surname, told the outlet that he was “tripping on shrooms” when he began toying with Midjourney, an AI tool that can generate realistic fake images.

“It just dawned on me: I should do the Pope. Then it was just coming like water: ‘The Pope in Balenciaga puffy coat, Moncler, walking the streets of Rome, Paris,’ stuff like that,” Pablo Xavier recalled in a statement.

Pleased with his work, the meme creator claimed that he shared the “perfect” pictures in the AI Art Universe Facebook Group, then on Reddit. But the image really took off once it migrated to Twitter.

Pablo Xavier claimed that he “didn’t want it [the pictures] to blow up like that” and admitted it’s “definitely scary” that “people are running with it and thought it was real without questioning it.”

The almost surrealistic images even fooled avid Twitter user and supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who tweeted Saturday: “I thought the pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought. no way am I surviving the future of technology.”

Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Finneas insisted in an Instagram Story on Sunday that “the pope’s puffer jacket is real if you want it to be.”

AI-generated photos of former President Donald Trump resisting arrest and running from the NYPD also made the rounds on Twitter last week as the embattled politician weathers possible federal indictment.

The falsified images showed an indignant Trump in the arms of officials as wife Melania and son Donald Jr. shout in protest of the arrest.

(New York Post)