It was another mainly negative week for equities last week as, once more, macroeconomic uncertainty. With US jobs data downbeat and Europe's inability to balance its books, investors are clinging onto any conceivable source of optimism until it's extinguished.
Last week's hope seems to have been in the form of speeches from US Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke and US president Barack Obama. Investors, it seems, were hoping the two of them would announce further stimulation for the US economy, and got all discouraged when they didn't. The Dow Jones Industrial Average went below 11,000 for the first time since last October - bar the dips of last month.
This hope does seem a bit naive, however, as everyone knows they played most of their cards a couple of years ago, which always left open the possibility of stagflation - in which prices inflate despite a stagnating economy. Unlike in the 70s - when this term was coined - this piece of stagflation comes amid very low interest rates, but the effect is the same - there are few tools available to policy-makers to stimulate the economy.
But try telling NVIDIA CEO Jan Hsu Huang that. Last week he went on a road trip to tell the media why he had just upgraded NVIDIA's forecast for next year. It all seemed to resonate with investors, who boosted NVIDIA's share price in spite of the broader pessimism. Other tech companies perceived to have less rosy futures - such as HP and Nokia - fared less well.
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