S&P 500 ends quarter on a record high

The S&P 500 ended the week on a high, to cap off its best first-quarter performance since 2019.

The broad U.S. stock index advanced 0.1%, notching its 22nd all-time high of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added about 47 points, or 0.1%, also closing at a record. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%. For the year, the S&P 500 is up 10%.

Many investors were optimistic about the market going into 2024, coming off big gains in stocks last year led by megacap tech shares – and they’ve got more reasons to be upbeat.

The U.S. economy grew in the fourth quarter even more than previously thought, according to the government’s revised estimate for gross domestic product. Consumer confidence rose to its highest level in almost three years, according to a University of Michigan survey.

Tesla deliveries may be hitting more roadblocks

Tesla’s poor first quarter may extend well into the year if the EV giant fails to hit its delivery numbers.

Analysts believe that Tesla might not even match the 422,875 deliveries it made in January through March last year when it reports quarterly volumes early next week. That would make for the first year-over-year decline in sales since the pandemic lockdowns of spring 2020—not to mention some tough headlines.

But it isn’t just about weak demand for Tesla. Production has also flagged, because of an update to the Model 3 production line in Fremont, Calif. and an arson attack in Berlin. Whatever the reasons, attentive analysts on both sides of the bull-bear debate have been downgrading their estimates

Disney’s board fight takes center stage this week

The fight over who exactly sits on the entertainment giant’s board is in its final stages, with the company’s annual meeting slated for Wednesday. Shareholders are choosing between three options promulgated by Disney and two activist investors.

The result wouldn’t necessarily be a major shake-up—one activist proposal calls for replacing two members of the 12-person board, while the other would basically add three more members.

It has been rancorous nonetheless, particularly because both campaigns have been sharply critical of the company’s performance under the management of board member and Chief Executive Bob Iger.

Disney’s share price has jumped 35% since the start of the year—more than triple the S&P 500’s performance, and even exceeding that of streaming star Netflix.

Visa and Mastercard reach settlement over swipe fees

Visa and Mastercard have reached an estimated $30bn antitrust settlement to limit credit and debit card fees for merchants in the United States.

Merchants have long accused Visa and Mastercard of charging inflated swipe fees or interchange fees when shoppers use credit or debit cards and barring them, through “anti-steering” rules, from directing customers toward cheaper means of payment.

Under the settlement, Visa and Mastercard would reduce swipe rates by at least four basis points (0.04 percentage points) for three years and ensure an average rate that is seven basis points below the current average for five years.

Truth Social opens with a wild trading session

Truth Social’s parent company began trading Tuesday under the ticker DJT, Trump’s initials.

Its shares soared as much as 59% after the opening bell and swung throughout the day before settling at 16%. Trading was so intense that Nasdaq temporarily halted trading following the opening bell.

Tuesday’s rally gives the early-stage company a market value of roughly $8 billion. The gobsmacking valuation makes Trump’s approximately 60% stake worth about $4.5 billion.

The question is, how soon can the former US president tap his roughly $4.5 billion stake?

FTX founder sentenced to 25 years in prison

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for what prosecutors called one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history, capping the onetime crypto king’s meteoric rise and fall.

Less than two years ago, the moptop millennial hobnobbed with heads of state, soaked up Caribbean views from his $30 million penthouse, and vowed to use his wealth to better humanity.

A jury last year found the 32-year-old guilty of stealing billions of dollars from FTX customers and defrauding investors and lenders at his crypto investment firm, Alameda Research.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said that in determining the sentence, he weighed the brazenness of Bankman-Fried’s actions, his lack of remorse, and the possibility that he’d commit future crimes.

The judge said Bankman-Fried owes $11 billion in financial penalties, ordering the government to use properties and assets seized from Bankman-Fried to compensate victims.