Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures edge lower as investors await speech by Fed’s Powell

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Stock-index futures edged lower Thursday as investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that’s expected to mark a historic shift in the central bank’s monetary policy framework.

The latest weekly data on jobless claims will also be in focus a day after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite logged the latest in a series of all-time highs.

What are major benchmarks doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YM00, -0.28% fell 79 points, or 0.3%, to 28,233, while S&P 500 futures ES00, -0.22% were off 7.80 points, or 0.2%, at 3,472.50. Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, -0.22% gave up 26.25 points, or 0.2%, to trade at 11,965.

The Dow DJIA, +0.29% on Wednesday rose 83.48 points, or 0.3%, to finish at 28,331.92, leaving it 4.1% below its record close on Feb. 12. The S&P 500 SPX, +1.02% advanced 35.11 points, or 1%, finishing at a record 3,478.73. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +1.73% closed at 11,665.06, also a record, after a rise of 198.59 points, or 1.7%.

What’s driving the market?

Anticipation has been building around Powell’s speech at the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium, which is taking place virtually this year. Powell is expected to lay out a reversal in the central bank’s policy framework that would allow inflation and the labor market to run hot. The Fed chair is scheduled to speak around 9 a.m. Eastern.

“It seems expectations may be too high as Powell will need to be overly dovish to meet [market] expectations,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note. “No one believes that he will disappoint the markets but given the scale of the latest rally in stocks, chances of a pullback are high before bulls resume their march higher.”

It’s also a busy day on the economic calendar, featuring weekly data on jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expect the number of first-time applications for unemployment benefits to come in at 1 million in the week ended Aug. 22, down from the unexpectedly large 1.11 million seen the previous week.

A revised reading of second-quarter gross domestic product is also due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists expected the data to show the economy contracted at a 32.5% annualized pace.

Data on July pending home sales is set for 10 a.m. Eastern.

Which companies are in focus?
What are other markets doing?

Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.35% fell 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.61% advanced 0.6% and the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.82% declined 0.8%. 

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.20% was off 0.3%, while U.K.’s FTSE 100 benchmark UKX, -0.17% lost 0.2%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.681% TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.681% fell 1.1 basis points to 0.881%. Bond prices move inversely to yields.

Gold futures GCZ20, -0.32% fell 0.2% to $1.948.90 an ounce. Oil futures CL.1, -0.36% were lower as Hurricane Laura made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast with 150 mile-per-hour winds before being downgraded to a Category 3 storm.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.07%, which tracks the currency versus a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.1% at 92.943.

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