Wall Street Awaits Nvidia Results Amid AI Frenzy

Investors Nervous as Federal Reserve Remains Cautious

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(Bloomberg) — Wall Street traders kept a lid on stocks ahead of results from Nvidia Corp. — the chipmaker at the heart of the artificial-intelligence frenzy that has powered the bull market. Equities remained under pressure as the latest Federal Reserve minutes showed officials are in no rush to cut rates.

Just moments away from Nvidia’s quarterly numbers, investors around the world are waiting to see whether the firm will be able to match the sky-high expectations surrounding the technology that has been dubbed an opportunity of a lifetime. Given its massive influence on broader indexes, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s trading desk has called the chipmaker “the most important stock on planet earth.” A member of the “Magnificent Seven” group of megacaps, Nvidia has been responsible for one-third of the Nasdaq 100’s gain this year.

Nvidia has been the ‘poster child’ of AI enthusiasm because NVDA makes the type of semiconductor chips that power generative AI and demand for those chips has gone through the roof,” said Tom Essaye, founder of The Sevens Report. “The AI-driven rally in the ‘Mag Seven’ is largely justified by the fact that they’re making a lot more money than they were previously.”

The S&P 500 dropped to around 4,955, while the Nasdaq 100 underperformed — with Nvidia down almost 4%. The chipmaker is still the best performer in the US equity benchmark this year, up 35%. Treasury yields climbed after a $16 billion sale of 20-year bonds.

Traders also kept an eye on the latest debate about the outlook for the Fed’s next steps.

Most Fed officials last month flagged concerns over moving too quickly to cut interest rates, indicating such risks outweighed keeping borrowing costs elevated for too long. The minutes of the Jan. 30-31 Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed policymakers remain attentive to the trajectory of inflation, with some worried that progress toward the central bank’s 2% target could stall.

“I think most important here, we are reminded again that interest rates are going to remain elevated for a while relative to where they stood in the 15 years prior to 2022 and there remains a lot of repricing of maturing debt that needs to happen still,” said Peter Boockvar, author of the Boock Report.

Meantime, Fed Governor Michelle Bowman argued on Wednesday that the current economic environment doesn’t warrant the central bank cutting interest rates. Fed Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin said recent economic data highlighted how price pressures in some sectors are still too high, despite improvement in the overall inflation picture.

“Given the uptick in prices the Fed’s concerns appear valid,” said Quincy Krosby at LPL Financial. “Above all else they don’t want to repeat the mistake of monetary policy from the 1970’s, which opened the door to stagflation and the need for much higher interest rates to expunge seemingly embedded inflation.”

A recent pickup in consumer and producer prices has cast a shadow over economic optimism and risks shifting the investor narrative from expectations of a “Goldilocks” scenario to a return to 1970s-style stagflation, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Marko Kolanovic.

Stakes are so high for Nvidia’s earnings that even strategists who wouldn’t normally comment on individual securities had something to say ahead of the numbers.

“We do not usually talk about individual stocks as asset allocation traditionally is the largest driver of portfolio risk and return,” said Emily Roland and Matt Miskin at John Hancock Investment Management. “While Nvidia is high quality for sure, to us the AI hype has gone beyond the ‘reasonable price’ stage.”

A host of similarities between tech stocks now and previous bubbles suggest the “Magnificent Seven” is only nearing — but not yet at — levels that may lead it to pop, Bank of America Corp. strategist Michael Hartnett said last week.

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