Anything that points to an easing of monetary policy in 2024 is good news for investors. For example, in the US, when the JOLTS job creation figures are bad, it's one more argument that economic conditions are worsening and that the Fed will have to cut rates. What's more, none of the economists surveyed by the consensus makers had predicted such poor figures. This will be confirmed on Friday with the official monthly employment figures, pending the central bank's latest monetary policy decision next week.

Already today, we got some confirmation of a cooling job market with the ADP National Employment report. U.S. private payrolls increased less than expected in November, by 103,000 jobs versus 130,000 jobs expected. Data for October was revised lower to show 106,000 jobs added instead of 113,000 as previously reported.

In Europe, too, the sound of rate cuts is taking hold. Even Isabel Schnabel, one of the ECB's hawks, explained that inflation has slowed "remarkably" in Europe, making further rate hikes "unlikely". Equity markets love the transmutations of hawks into doves - they can't help it. They are now betting that the ECB will cut rates by the end of Q1 2024. At the beginning of November, there was still speculation as to whether a rate cut would take place next year... With the exception of the UK yesterday, all European indices were up more or less sharply. We'll come back to this in a moment. In the US, the picture was more mixed, but the best indicator of risk appetite, the Nasdaq, resumed its rise.

The year 2023 is coming to an end and we can already look back at the main events on stock markets. Among them, India has just passed the $4,000 billion mark in cumulative capitalization. It is continuing its ascent and is now hot on the heels of Hong Kong. The Indian market ranks sixth worldwide, if we exclude the mainland Chinese markets of Shanghai and Shenzhen. By way of comparison, the NYSE is worth around $25,500 billion, the Nasdaq just under $21,000 billion and Euronext $6,300 billion.

If we look at the best performances among individual large caps globally, Rolls-Royce saw its share price triple since January 1. The British engine-maker is one of the year's great industrial turnarounds.

In other news, Joe Biden hinted that he might not have run for a second term if it hadn't been for the need to block Donald Trump's path. I don't know whether this kind of statement serves him or not. In odd but not necessarily reassuring news, Russia's monthly oil revenues are higher than they were before the war in Ukraine. The sanctions system needs rethinking, me thinks.

Economic highlights of the day:

German factory orders, eurozone retail sales data US ADP employment report, non-farm productivity and unit labor costs, the trade balance and DOE crude inventories. The full agenda is here

The dollar is worth EUR 0.9266 and GBP 0.7939. The ounce of gold is worth USD 2031. Oil is relatively stable, with North Sea Brent at USD 76.10 a barrel and US light crude WTI at USD 71.13. The yield on 10-year US debt stands at 4.19%. Bitcoin is trading at around USD 44,000.

In corporate news:

  • Mastercard said Tuesday that its board of directors had approved a new share buyback program of up to $11 billion.
  • Nvidia will develop a new series of products that comply with U.S. government regulations and can be exported to China, the company said on Wednesday. The stock gained 1.2% in pre-market trading.
  • Members of actors' union SAG-AFTRA on Tuesday approved a three-year contract with major studios, officially ending six months of labor unrest.
  • British American Tobacco said on Wednesday that it would incur a loss of around $31.5 billion after its write-down of the value of certain US cigarette brands, acknowledging that its historic market has no long-term future.
  • Johnson & Johnson announced on Tuesday that it had recently reached settlements with several civil parties accusing the talc produced by the group of causing cancer.
  • Airline profits are expected to stabilize in 2024, as confirmation of post-pandemic air travel growth is offset by high capital costs and capacity constraints, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said Wednesday. Delta Air Lines on Wednesday reaffirmed its profit and revenue forecasts for 2023, with travel demand remaining stable.
  • Yext- The data management company falls 15.8% before the open, after lowering its FY 2024 sales to a range of $403.2 to $403.7 million, against a previously forecast range of $405 to $407 million.
  • Danaher- The medical tools supplier announced on Wednesday that it had completed the acquisition of Abcam for $5.7 billion, despite opposition from the target's founder.
  • Pharvaris - The drug developer is up around 45.6% ahead of the open after reporting that an experimental drug has met the targets of a mid-term study to treat and prevent attacks of hereditary angioedema (HAE), a skin disease.
  • Norway's largest private-sector union said on Wednesday that it could, from December 20, start blocking all exports of Tesla cars destined for the Swedish market.
  • Campbell Soup beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly earnings on Wednesday, as price increases offset a slowdown in demand.
  • Exxon Mobil on Wednesday raised its production forecast for 2024 to 3.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company also said it would increase the pace of share buybacks to $20 billion a year from the closing of the Pioneer buyout to 2025.
  • US competition authorities will try again on Wednesday to prevent Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard, even though the deal has already closed.
  • Novavax said on Tuesday that Health Canada had granted extended approval for its COVID-19 vaccine. The stock gained 3% before the opening.
  • Box - The software company fell by 12.4% before the opening, as the group forecast fourth-quarter sales of $262 to $264 million, below analysts' estimates of $265.8 million.

Analyst recommendations:

  • 3i Group Plc: RBC Capital initiates an Outperform recommendation with a target price of GBP 25.50.
  • Autozone, Inc.: Raymond James upgrades to strong buy from outperform with a price target raised from USD 2850 to USD 3100.
  • British American Tobacco P.L.C.: Panmure Gordon & Co. Limited maintains its buy recommendation with a price target reduced from GBX 4700 to GBX 4300.
  • Builders Firstsource, Inc.: B Riley Securities Inc. upgrades to buy from neutral with a price target raised from USD 128 to USD 177.
  • Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Plc: ING Bank maintains its buy recommendation and raises the target price from 62.22 to EUR 76.22.
  • Coinbase Global, Inc.: Goldman Sachs maintains its sell recommendation and raises the target price from USD 55 to USD 123.
  • Devon Energy Corporation: JP Morgan upgrades to overweight from neutral with a target price raised from USD 57 to USD 58.
  • Dollar General Corporation: Wells Fargo maintains its equalweight recommendation and raises the target price from USD 110 to USD 122.
  • Eog Resources, Inc.: JP Morgan downgrades to neutral from overweight with a target price reduced from USD 156 to USD 150.
  • Essex Property Trust, Inc.: JP Morgan maintains its neutral recommendation with a price target reduced from USD 268 to USD 237.
  • Ferguson Plc: Baird maintains its outperform rating and raises the target price from USD 180 to USD 200.
  • Fleetcor Technologies, Inc.: Jefferies maintains its buy recommendation and raises the target price from USD 275 to USD 290.
  • Kinder Morgan, Inc.: Morningstar upgrades to buy from hold with a price target raised from USD 17.50 to USD 20.
  • Masco Corporation: Wells Fargo maintains its overweight recommendation and raises the target price from USD 58 to USD 70.
  • Melrose Industries Plc: BNP Paribas Exane downgrades to neutral from outperform with a target price of GBX 540.
  • Meta Platforms, Inc.: Guotai Junan Securities Co., Ltd. initiates an overweight recommendation with a target price of USD 447.76.
  • Mongodb, Inc.: Baird maintains its outperform rating and raises the target price from USD 430 to USD 450.
  • Ocado Group Plc: JP Morgan upgrades to neutral from underweight with a price target raised from GBP 4 to GBP 6.
  • Paccar, Inc.: BNP Paribas Exane maintains a neutral recommendation with a price target raised from USD 78 to USD 90.
  • Palo Alto Networks, Inc.: President Capital Management Corp maintains its buy recommendation and raises the target price from USD 250 to USD 330.
  • Pioneer Natural Resources Company: JP Morgan maintains its overweight recommendation and reduces the target price from USD 264 to USD 253.
  • Rockwell Automation, Inc.: Baird maintains its outperform rating and reduces the target price from USD 330 to USD 308.
  • Spirax-Sarco Engineering Plc: BNP Paribas Exane maintains its underperform recommendation and reduces the target price from 9250 to GBX 8250.