Wednesday August 24th


Earnings in the spotlight on Wall Street, Yellen speech eyed

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Wednesday, as investors concentrate on fluctuating oil prices and key data releases ahead of a key speech by the Federal Reserve's Chair. All eyes will be on the U.S. central bank later on this week, as its Chair Janet Yellen, is set to give a speech on August 26 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual Economic Policy Symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Investors will be watching this meeting closely, to see if the Fed provides any indications as to when it may raise interest rates, while potentially giving a long-term outlook on the U.S. economy. However it's not only the central bank that's expected to move markets on Wednesday, but earnings and data as well. Express, HEICO, Williams-Sonoma, PVH, Workday are all expected to release their latest earnings. On the data front, a slew of data is expected to keep investors on their toes, with the FHFA home price data and Existing home sales, due out at 9.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. ET respectively. Meanwhile oil prices continued to put markets on edge, with crude futures trading lower on Wednesday after an unexpected build in U.S. crude inventories added a negative element to trade. WTI and Brent crude last stood around $47.10 per barrel and $49.30, respectively. Markets will be keeping an eye on oil's reaction, after the crude inventories data comes out at 10.30 a.m. ET. Internationally, European stocks were slightly higher in morning trade, while Asia-Pacific indexes also delivered a mixed picture overnight. Japanese shares rose, with the Nikkei 225 finishing up 99.94 points, or 0.61 percent, at 16,597.30, while across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed down 6.17 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,043.76. Chinese mainland markets were mixed; the Shanghai composite closed down 3.88 points, or 0.13 percent, at 3,085.82, while the Shenzhen composite added 6.22 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,030.28. Meanwhile, U.S. indexes ended higher in the previous session, with materials gaining around 1 percent. Gold held steady on Wednesday as investors took to the sidelines ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen this weekend which will be closely watched for further clues on interest rate policy. Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. Spot gold was at $1,338.10 an ounce, little changed from $1,337.35 an ounce late on Tuesday. "Volatility (in gold) is very low, and that means people are waiting for new information that they can price in," LBBW analyst Thorsten Proettel said. "Many people are looking to Jackson Hole, and what is going to be said there."