Thursday August 25th


US futures fall as Street turns attention to data, Yellen's speech

U.S. stock index futures indicated a lower open on Thursday as traders analyzed economic of data and anticipated Friday's speech from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Initial jobless claims fell for a third straight week to to 261,000. Durable goods orders for July rose 4.4 percent, above expectations. The Markit Services PMI is due at 9:45 a.m. Yellen is set to speak in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday, and traders will be watching as to whether she gives any indications on rate hikes. In oil markets, Brent crude traded at $48.95 a barrel on Thursday, down 0.3 percent, while U.S. crude held at $46.50 a barrel, down 0.5 percent. In Europe, the pan European Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.92 percent on Thursday. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 0.25 percent lower on Thursday, while in China the Shanghai Composite closed 0.57 percent lower. On the earnings front, Dollar General and Tiffany, among others,reported quarterly results before the open. Autodesk and Splunk are among companies set to report after the bell. Gold edged off the previous day's four-week low on Thursday as the dollar retreated, but prices were rangebound ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen this week which will be watched for clues on monetary policy. Investors are hoping Yellen will give a clearer signal on the path of interest rate hikes when she addresses a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday. Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced. Spot gold was up 0.16 percent at $1,321.11 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were down $5.60 an ounce at $1,324.10.