Thursday August 24th

24-08-2017

Futures point to a higher open on Wall Street, as investors turn their attention to Jackson Hole

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Thursday, as investors tried to shake off concerns surrounding the U.S. administration and switched focus to the monetary policy symposium at Jackson Hole. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 55 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 5.25 points and 19.25 points, respectively. Thursday marks the start of the 2017 Economic Policy Symposium on "Fostering a Dynamic Global Economy" at Jackson Hole, where leading central bankers are set to meet. Over the three-day event, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are both set to speak, with investors watching the event closely for any indications when it comes to monetary policy outlook. Kansas City Fed President Esther George told CNBC on Thursday that the economy was strong enough to handle more rate hikes, despite recent readings of weak inflation. "I think we should continue with the gradual rate path," she said from the annual symposium. "While we haven't hit 2 percent, I'm reminded that 2 percent is a target over the long term, and in the context of a growing economy, of jobs being added, I don't think it's an issue that we should be particularly concerned about unless we see something change." Looking to politics, earlier this week U.S. President Donald Trump said he'd be willing to go as far as letting the government shut down, at a rally on Tuesday night, if he wasn't able to have his border wall with Mexico funded. While the news weighed on U.S. stocks during Wednesday's trade, international investors appeared to dismiss and shake off concerns surrounding this, with Asia closing mostly higher and Europe trading higher on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.42 percent, or 80.87 points, to close at 19,353.77. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi advanced 0.40 percent, or 9.44 points, to end at 2,375.84. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.52 percent by 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN as markets in Hong Kong re-opened after being shut on Wednesday due to typhoon Hato. Markets on the mainland closed lower: the Shanghai Composite erased 0.48 percent, or 15.7124 points, to close at 3,271.9925 and the Shenzhen Composite slid 0.605 points, or 11.5111 points, to finish at 1,890.4844. Oil prices steadied on Thursday following a rally in the previous session after another fall in U.S. crude inventories and as a tropical storm headed towards oil producing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. Benchmark Brent crude was up 8 cents a barrel at $52.65 by 8:58 a.m. ET (1258 GMT). U.S. light, sweet crude was 10 cents lower at $48.31 a barrel. Gold nudged lower on Thursday, giving up some of its gains made after U.S. President Donald Trump's threat of a government shutdown, with investors remaining focused on a major central bankers conference in Jackson Hole. Spot gold was down 0.17 percent at $1,287.53 an ounce, after gaining 0.4 percent in the previous session. U.S. gold futures for December delivery slipped 0.16 percent to $1,292.60 per ounce. In data news, jobless claims totaled 234,000. Existing home sales data are due at 10 a.m. ET and the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey at 11 a.m. ET.