Futures are on the rise as investors look to Powell’s speech
(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who could offer clues as to when the central bank will start cutting its stimulus measures.
Oil majors Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp and Schlumberger NV rose 0.6% to 1.4%, following crude prices, while major banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, rose around 0.4% %.
Major Wall Street indices slid from all-time highs on Thursday’s close amid concerns over developments in Afghanistan and hawkish signals from Fed officials.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Atlanta Fed Chairman Raphael Bostic, who is a voting member of the policy making committee, said it would be “reasonable” to reduce bond purchases from October if strong job gains continue.
Powell, who is due to speak via a 10 a.m.ET (2 p.m. GMT) webcast at the Jackson Hole Annual Economic Conference, could recognize the economy’s progress toward full employment and likely provide new clues on the $ 120 billion in monthly asset purchases slowing, with an announcement expected before the end of 2021, possibly as early as next month.
A strong recovery in corporate earnings and hopes of a vaccine-induced economic rebound have pushed US stocks to record highs in recent sessions, but the surge in cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has clouded the economic outlook.
All three major indices were forecast for slight weekly gains, with the highly technical Nasdaq looking to outperform.
As of 6:49 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 86 points, or 0.24%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 13.75 points, or 0.31%, and e-minis Nasdaq 100 were up 55.75 points, or 0.36%.
Mega-cap tech stocks Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Amazon.com, owner of Google Alphabet Inc and Tesla Inc edged up ahead of the opening bell.
On the data front, the University of Michigan consumer confidence index for August and the Fed’s preferred inflation indicator, personal consumption spending, for July are due at 8:30 am ET.
Among the profit-driven moves, clothing retailer Gap Inc jumped 7.8% after raising its net sales forecast for the year as socialization returns with the easing of brakes on the pandemic.
Workday Inc added 6.1% as brokerages raised their share price targets after the enterprise cloud applications company topped analyst estimates for second-quarter revenue.
Fitness equipment maker Peloton Interactive Inc fell 9.2% after a warning that its near-term profitability would suffer from the decision to lower the price of its exercise bike and rising costs.
Report by Devik Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty