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U.S. consumers stay bullish on the economy


A shopper carries several bags in the Magnificent Mile shopping district of Chicago on Dec. 2, 2023.

Taylor Glascock | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today 

China lower
Asia markets
tumbled Tuesday even as the People’s Bank of China slashed its five-year loan prime rate by 25 basis points to 3.95%. The CSI 300 fell, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also dropped. Futures for S&P 500, Nasdaq 100 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were all down as the U.S. markets return to trade after a holiday. On the corporate earnings front, results from Home Depot and Walmart are due before the bell.

Alibaba’s overseas bet
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is placing its bets on overseas businesses as domestic growth remains weak. The company’s latest earnings showed its international e-commerce business unit was a bright spot, with revenue up 44% from a year ago.

Gold spike   
Gold prices could hit $3,000 per ounce, and oil $100 per barrel by 2025, according to Citi, subject to any one of the three triggers: central banks’ aggressive purchases, stagflation, or a global recession.

Capital One merger
Capital One Financial will acquire Discover Financial Services in a $35.3 billion all-stock deal. The merger among two of the largest credit card issuers in the U.S, expands Capital One’s credit card offerings and its deposit base.

[PRO] UBS picks ‘hidden gems’
Small-and medium-sized stocks are often overlooked but “have the charm of being hidden gems,” according to UBS. The bank has picked five small-cap stocks across Europe that offer plenty of potential, giving one a 77% upside.

The bottom line

 American consumers remain steady and upbeat on the economy despite sticky inflation. 

The latest University of Michigan survey for February showed consumer sentiment index rose 0.6 points to 79.6, having posted solid gains in the previous two months. 

“The fact that sentiment lost no ground this month suggests that consumers continue to feel more assured about the economy, confirming the considerable improvements in December and January across various aspects of the economy,” said Joanne Hsu, director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan. 

“Consumers continued to express confidence that the slowdown in inflation and strength in labor markets would continue.”

The optimism comes amid a surprise pullback in retail sales last week, which showed consumer spending took a big hit in January.  

“The robust consumer confidence numbers provide some reassurance,” Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note, adding that the “poor January retail sales report was a blip, rather than the start of a marked downturn in spending.” 

Still, the survey showed inflation expectations for the year ahead inched up to 3% from 2.9% in January, reflecting the conundrum the Fed faces in bringing inflation down to its 2% target.

It also comes on the back of hot CPI and PPI readings that delivered a one-two punch for markets last week.

The mixed economic picture reaffirms the notion that the last mile of the inflation fight will be the toughest.


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