Dow Futures Fall 80 Points Ahead of Powell Speech

Dow Futures Fall 80 Points Ahead of Powell Speech  | Aug 27, 2020 12:12

Dow Futures Fall 80 Points Ahead of Powell Speech

By Peter Nurse - U.S. stocks are set to open lower Thursday, consolidating after record levels the previous session, ahead of a key speech from Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell.

At 7:10 AM ET (1110 GMT), S&P 500 Futures traded 7 points, or 0.2%, lower, the Dow Futures contract fell 80 points, or 0.3%, while Nasdaq 100 Futures dropped 19 points, or 0.2%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3% Wednesday, to close at a new 6-months high, while the S&P 500 index added 1%, and the Nasdaq Composite index added 1.7%, new record closing highs.

The major indexes are on course for their fifth straight positive month. The Nasdaq is seeing its best August in 20 years, the S&P and DJIA haven't done better in August since 1986 and 1984, respectively.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will be in the spotlight when he speaks later Thursday to the central bank’s Jackson Hole conference, being held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Expect Powell to reveal the key conclusions of the Bank’s framework review,” said analysts at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), in a research note. “And that will be the FOMC adopting average inflation targeting. AIT means the Bank aiming for 2%-2.5% inflation when the economy is at or near full employment.”

Economic data will also be keenly studied Thursday, with the weekly initial jobless claims release due at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT). Expectations are for this number to be 1 million, down slightly from the 1.11 million new unemployment claims the previous week, while continuing jobless claims are seen at 14.4 million, also down slightly from 14.8 million the prior week.

The latest revision of the gross national product number for the second quarter is also due at the same time, and is expected to be revised up slightly to -32.5% in annualized terms from an initial reading of -32.9%.

Earnings releases are due from the likes of cosmetics giant Coty (NYSE:COTY) and makeup retailer Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA).

Oil prices slipped Thursday as Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana, threatening to devastate the U.S. Gulf Coast, an area with nearly half of America’s refining capacity.

That said, the prospect of a powerful hurricane is having a smaller impact on the market than would have been expected in the past: inventories remain high as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on fuel demand in the first half of the year.

U.S. oil inventories stood at 507.8 million barrels at the end of the week to Aug. 21, even after the Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected drop of 4.7 million barrels.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% lower at $43.25 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.2% to $46.07. 

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,946.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% lower at 1.1802.

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