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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Friday

Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, March 29:

1. U.S. stocks set for best quarterly performance since 2009

U.S. futures pointed to a higher open on Friday with the S&P 500 on track for gains of more than 12% in the first three months of the year in what would be its best quarterly performance since 2009.

Traders appeared to show optimism over recent developments in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, while a strong pricing in Lyft’s stock market debut gave the impression that demand for equities is still solid stateside. At 5:55 AM ET (9:55 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures gained 46 points, or 0.2%, S&P 500 futures rose 4 points, or 0.1%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures traded up 15 points, or 0.2%.

The end of the first quarter on a positive note may overshadow recent unease caused by the sharp drop in bond yields in the last 10 days.

The 10-year U.S. bond yield bounced slightly on Friday, rising to 2.41% by 5:56 AM ET (9:56 GMT) from a 15-month low of 2.35% reached a day earlier. The yield on the U.S. benchmark has undergone a relentless fall since the Federal Reserve last week cut its growth forecast for the year and indicated it didn't expect to raise interest rates till 2020 at the earliest.

2. U.S.-China have ‘productive working dinner’ on trade talks

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday he had a "productive working dinner" the previous night in Beijing, kicking off a day of talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held meetings in Beijing Friday partly to ensure there were no discrepancies in the English and Chinese-language versions of the text, and also to balance the number of working visits to each capital, according to the officials cited by Bloomberg.

Talks are scheduled to continue with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington next week. President Donald Trump's top economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday that a deal could still take months to finalize.

3. Lyft 's $24 billion IPO sets the stage for Uber, Pinterest

Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) was valued at $24.3 billion in the first initial public offering (IPO) of a ride-hailing startup.

The company priced an increased 32.5 million shares at $72 per share, the top of its already-increased price range, indicating strong demand for the deal.

High demand for what will be the biggest U.S. IPO since Snap in 2017 should bode well for Uber and Pinterest, which are also planning to go public in 2019 but, like Lyft, have yet to turn a profit. For what it's worth, Snap is down around 60% from its IPO price.

Read more: Lyft's Stock Begins Trading Today; Should You Buy? - Haris Anwar

4. New home sales expected to bounce amid deluge of U.S. economic data

The parade of housing numbers continues on Friday with the latest on new home sales out at 10:00 AM ET (14:00 GMT). On average, economists predict that new home sales bounced back in February to rise 1.3% to an annual rate of 620,000, according to forecasts compiled by Investing.com.

Before the bell, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will report personal income and spending numbers at 8:30 AM ET. That report also comes with the Federal Reserve’s favorite inflation gauge, albeit from back in January.

Personal income for February is forecast to have risen 0.3%, while personal spending - which will be reported for January - is expected to post a 0.3% rise as well.

That inflation gauge, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, which excludes food and energy, is expected to have risen 0.2% in January, with the annual rate remaining at 1.9%.

The consumer will also be in focus as the University of Michigan issues its final measure of March consumer sentiment at 10:00 AM (15:00 GMT).

The Chicago purchasing manager’s index (PMI), which gives investors insight into manufacturing in the Midwest, will come out at 9:45 AM ET (13:45 GMT).

5. Pound under pressure ahead of third try on Brexit vote

The pound moved lower against the dollar and euro on Friday ahead of yet another U.K. vote on Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The U.K. House of Commons is set to vote once more on Prime Minister Theresa May’s twice-defeated Withdrawal Agreement later Friday, but the initiative seems doomed to failure, lacking the support of the Northern Irish party that May’s Conservatives rely on, and of hard-line Conservative Brexiteers themselves.

The most likely outcome of the bill failing is that May will ask the EU for a longer extension to the Brexit deadline of April 12th, accepting that this will mean taking part in EU parliamentary elections in May. It is not clear that there is the necessary unanimous support among EU governments for an extension, so a ‘Hard Brexit’ on April 12th remains the default scenario.

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