The Paris Bourse ended the session in the red following the publication of the first US corporate results and several statistics. At the end of the session, the CAC40 index was down 0.16% at 8011 points.

Recently preoccupied by the reawakening of US inflation, investors will have the opportunity to return to fundamentals today with the opening of the first-quarter earnings season.

As usual, the big US banking groups JPMorgan Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo kicked off the day's proceedings at lunchtime.

Citigroup posted net income of $3.4 billion for the first three months of the year, compared with $4.6 billion a year earlier. Wells Fargo reported net income of $4.62 billion, or $1.20 per share, an EPS down more than 2%. BlackRock, the world's leading asset manager, reported adjusted net income up 23% year-on-year, to $1.47 billion.

These publications not only give an indication of the health of the financial sector, but also provide valuable food for thought regarding the economic situation in the USA, where the latest indicators have been solid.

After the spectacular start to the year made by the world's stock markets, these results are above all an indication of whether the valuations deemed high for US equities are justified.

According to FactSet data, earnings of companies listed on the S&P 500 should have risen by an average of 3.2% year-on-year, their third consecutive quarter of growth.

However, the price-earnings ratio (P/E) of the S&P 500 index currently stands at 20.5x, well above its long-term average of 17.7x.

According to analysts, however, it will take solid results - and not just from the tech giants - to lift stock market indices out of their current trading range.

Should an improvement in corporate accounts actually materialize, equities should benefit, as this would justify a rise in share prices on the basis of unchanged valuation ratios.

"Positive announcements would favor a rally in equities", believes César Perez Ruiz, Head of Investments and CIO at Pictet Wealth Management.

"A rise in all sectors would reinforce our optimism regarding US equities", stresses the strategist.

However, the opening of the earnings season will not make investors completely forget the unknown factor of inflation, and they are closely scrutinizing the price indices published this morning in France and Germany.

Over one year, consumer prices in France rose by 2.3% in March 2024, following a rate of 3% in February, according to Insee.

German inflation continued to slow in March, helped by a reversal in food and energy prices, show official data published this Friday. The consumer price index (CPI) rose at an annual rate of 2.2% last month, following increases of 2.5% in February and 2.9% in January.

This afternoon's agenda of indicators also included US import price figures, as well as the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index.

US import prices rose by 0.4% in March compared with the previous month (+0.1% excluding petroleum products), while export prices rose by 0.3% (+0.4% excluding food), according to the Labor Department.

US consumer confidence deteriorated more than expected in April, according to the first results of the University of Michigan's monthly survey. The confidence index stood at 77.9 this month, compared with a figure of 79.4 in March, while economists were expecting a more limited decline, to around 79.

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