The passing of Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger at 99 marks the end of an era, as Warren Buffett, 93, loses his partner of over 60 years, and Vice Chairman Greg Abel and Ajit Jain now take the spotlight as Buffett's top deputies overseeing Berkshire's business empires. While Abel and Jain have big shoes to fill as they embrace Berkshire's decentralised culture, giving units autonomy, investors express faith the conglomerate will remain strong under fresh leadership and the legacy of its icons.
The Dow and S&P 500 gains were modest, while the Nasdaq rose on strength in tech stocks. Treasury yields declined on dovish comments from Fed Governor Christopher Waller suggesting disinflation could warrant policy easing. Cyber Monday sales hit a record, lifting sentiment at retailers like Walmart and Foot Locker. Amazon announced a new AI chip to challenge Microsoft and unveiled a chatbot to aid AWS customers. Energy stocks rallied as oil prices increased on potential OPEC+ production cuts.
The Asian session opened strong with rising gold on falling US bond yields that gained a whopping 1.33% on Tuesday. The sliding dollar and reduced rate hike bets signal the Fed is finished with hikes and could cut rates in 2024. Markets see 50% odds for May 2024 cuts, but consensus may only be accurate for up to 2 meetings. Upcoming data, such as GDP, will fluctuate the outlook and perhaps prevent gold from rising to power if there are leeways for another hike.
As OPEC+ meets weigh further supply reductions, crude futures traded narrowly on worries of near-term tightness after a storm curtailed over 2 million barrels per day of Kazakh and Russian shipments although officials signal a possible extension of current cuts. However, prices drew support from API data revealing an unexpected 817,000 barrel US inventory decline last week and the Biden administration’s initiation of new drilling lease sales despite ongoing COP28 climate negotiations.
The dollar hit a three-month low as investors bet on Fed cuts in 2024 amid slowing US growth. Most Asian currencies rallied while the New Zealand dollar leading after the RBNZ hinted at 2024 hikes. The yen touched near two-month highs before the BOJ cautioned on continued easy policy. The yuan firmed on a higher PBOC fix and ahead of key China PMI data, though growth worries kept it above 7 per dollar.