Monday August 24th


Dow futures briefly off 700 points

U.S. stock index futures screamed lower on Monday, with Dow futures briefly tumbling more than 700 points, as fears surrounding the health of China's economy multiplied. The Dow futures held about 600 points lower, with the S&P futures off about 70 points, and the Nasdaq 100 futures off about 5 percent, which marks the lower end of the price limit. The major averages are on track for one of their worst opens since the financial crisis of 2008. These concerns saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite index notch up its biggest one-day percentage loss since 2007 on Monday, closing down 8.5 percent. Panic spread to European markets, with the STOXX Europe 600 off more than 4.5 percent. All major bourses were off a similar amount. The FTSEurofirst 300 index traded down over 4.6 percent and was on course for its worst month since 2008, having shed more than $1 trillion in market value in August so far. Japan's Nikkei 225 index also finished at its lowest closing level since February 23, as a double whammy of China-related fears and a rejuvenated yen brought the bourse down by its biggest one-day drop in more than 2 years. The major falls come after U.S. stocks closed deep in the red on Friday, pushing the Dow and Nasdaq into correction territory.The major averages had their biggest trade volume day of the year and posted their worst week in four years. Oil prices crashed to fresh six and half year lows on Monday, after Chinese stock markets suffered, intensifying worries over the outlook for global oil demand. Brent oil was trading down 4.6 percent, at $43.36 a barrel. U.S. October crude was down 4.1 percent at $38.80 a barrel. "Markets are afraid of further economic weakness in China, further pain in global commodity markets and uncertain about Fed and People's Bank of China policy—what they will do and what the impact will be," said global strategist at Societe Generale, Kit Juckes. "The divergence between global commodity prices and equities is not a new theme but the danger now is that they begin to re-correlate—as they did when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 and what had previously been an emerging market crisis became a U.S. recession." No major earnings or economic data are expected from the U.S. on Monday. While traders will be pre-occupied with the extreme moves in global markets, elsewhere the coming week's annual Economic Policy Symposium at Jackson Hole, which brings together academics, financial market participants and many of the world's leading central bankers, could provide important signals as to near-term monetary policy action in the U.S. In addition, Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Stanley Fischer will speak later this week. Thursday will brings this week's data highlight, with the second reading of second quarter gross domestic product (GDP). Some important housing data is also due for release throughout the week, including the release on Tuesday of the FHFA and Case-Shiller home price indices and new home sales figures, followed on Thursday by pending home sales data. Meanwhile, safe haven assets have rallied around the world, with gold and U.S. Treasurys both seeing strong gains in the last two weeks.In currency markets, the yen and Swiss Franc have rallied against the U.S. dollar while the euro has proved the surprise outperformer, appreciating 4.5 percent against the greenback in the last two weeks. Gold edged lower on Monday but remained near a seven-week high as the dollar and shares tumbled on concerns about the Chinese economy and uncertainty over the timing of a U.S. rate rise. The dip was partly due to heavy losses in the rest of the commodities sector, with crude oil down almost 4 percent and copper falling to a six-year low. Platinum dropped 3 percent and palladium hit its lowest in three years at $564 an ounce. Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,158.96 an ounce, with investors taking profits after the metal hit its highest since July 7 at $1,168.40 on Friday. It gained more than 4 percent last week, the most since mid-January. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down 60 cents at $1,159 an ounce.