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Stocks jump, crypto slumps as markets brace for a mammoth Biden budget plan

May 28, 2021, 9:29 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters, and happy Friday.

Let’s start in Washington. Later today, President Biden will deliver a historic budget request. Why historic? The list of goodies weighs in at a record $6 trillion, The New York Times reports, which would clear the way for record fiscal spending and giant annual deficits. When the story broke, U.S. futures popped.

Fiscal hawks, you’ll have plenty to talk about over the barbecue this weekend. A reminder: this proposal is a mere wish list; there’s slim to no chance Congress lets such a generous spending plan get approved.

Meanwhile, the crypto market is going in the opposite direction this morning. Bitcoin, Ethereum and the alt-coin gaggle are in the red, and have been edging lower, lower, lower all morning.

Let’s see what else is moving markets.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are closing out the week on a strong foot. The Nikkei, the best of the bunch, is up 2.1%.
  • Global commerce is getting more expensive. Shipping container rates—a closely watched metric—between Asia and Europe hit an all-time high, topping $10,000 per container.


  • The European bourses are higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.4% mid-morning, padding its all-time high.
  • Yesterday’s big winner was Airbus, closing up 9.2%. The plane-maker gave a bullish outlook on orders for narrow-body jets—but warned suppliers to up their game to meet the upswing in demand.
  • England’s grand plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions on June 21 is now in doubt over concerns about rising cases of the highly infectious so-called India variant. Already, France and Germany have slapped restrictions on travelers coming from the U.K. over India variant fears.


  • U.S. futures are holding onto their gains this morning. All three major exchanges are comfortably in the green for the week.
  • Shares in Salesforce are soaring in pre-market, up 4.2% after the cloud software maker delivered knockout results and upbeat guidance after the bell yesterday.
  • For the second straight week, we got a better-than-expected jobless claims number, coming in at a pandemic low of 406,000. That excited the bulls yesterday even as the 10-year Treasury note ticked higher on the news.


  • Gold is off, trading around $1,890.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude continues to creep up with Brent trading below $70/barrel.
  • Bitcoin is off nearly 10%, trading below $36,000 at 5 a.m. ET. Ethereum and Dogecoin are doing even worse.


By the numbers


Amid the data dump we got yesterday was a revised Q1 GDP figure in the U.S. At 6.4%, it came in a tick below expectations, but it’s still indisputably strong print. That gave a bit of an oomph to the Dow and S&P 500 yesterday. But the Nasdaq fell back late in the day. And that’s revealing. Here’s why. For the markets, the growth story is yesterday’s news. Looking forward, the big focus is on what a bounce-back will mean for the consumer—more to the point, will blockbuster growth lead to inflation. And the I-word, as you know, is like kryptonite for many of the growth stocks you find in the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Stock pros are advising not to get too hung up on the inflation debate. As Chris Zaccarelli, CIO for Independent Advisor Alliance wrote in an investor note yesterday, “We are expecting the stock market to keep moving higher this year, and yields to move higher as increased economic growth and inflation rebound from pandemic-lows. The increase in the level of the S&P 500 won’t happen in a straight line and we are due for some type of a pullback—either a more garden-variety 5% pullback or a larger correction (say low double-digits)— but  we would be a buyer in either case as the underlying fundamentals of the economy and corporate profits remain very strong.”


Let’s check in on small-caps. The prevailing wisdom at the beginning of the year was that a big U.S. economic rebound, plus trillions in stimulus spending, would particularly benefit small-cap stocks. So far, that thesis checks out. The benchmark micro-cap Russell 2000 is up 16.8% YTD, outperforming the Dow (+12.6%) and S&P (+11.8%)—and really sticking it to the Nasdaq (+6.6%). For those of you long Russell 2000 stocks, the small-cap rally has been a bit deceptive. It rocketed higher in Q1, only to pull back and trade sideways since then. Still, investors and stock-pickers are bullish on the little guys as sector after sector bounces back, aided by increasing vaccination rates. As Lisa Shalett, CIO of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, outlined in an investor note this week: “A V-shaped recovery is central to our thesis that a new business cycle and bull market have begun. Risks remain around policy changes, fiscal stimulus and the COVID-19 vaccine, but we expect 2021 GDP growth of 7.3% which should improve profits among cyclical and small-/mid-cap companies.”


Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday—Bull Sheet is off on Monday for Memorial Day. But first, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner

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Today's reads

Just in time for Memorial Day. Here's something to listen to as you prepare the barbecue this weekend: the Fortune Brainstorm podcast this week tackles the incredible surge in plant-based and cultivated meat. If you're wondering what's behind the recent stock rally in Beyond Meat (BYND), give this one a listen.

Black Wall Street. History buffs, here's a fascinating report on the centennial of an ugly moment in American history: the Tulsa massacre. At the start of the 20th Century, Tulsa's Greenwood district was a thriving business community, earning the nickname "The Black Wall Street."

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Market candy

Quiz time

Which meme stock is up more than 1,000%—yes, you read that correctly—so far this year?

  • A. GameStop
  • B. AMC Entertainment
  • C. Bed Bath & Beyond
  • D. BlackBerry

The answer is B. After yesterday's stunning 35% rally, AMC is now worth more than $10 billion, and it's up 1,150.94% YTD. And, pre-market, it's up a further 10% this morning.

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