Thursday August 22nd


US futures turn negative, pointing to slightly lower open

U.S. stock index futures turned slightly negative early Thursday morning. Around 5:50 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a negative open of about 40 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were mixed. Investors are expected to be largely attuned to the Federal Reserve’s central banking meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, over the next two days. Policymakers at the U.S. central bank are scheduled to deliver remarks from Thursday, after weeks of limited public appearances. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan are both set to comment on the world’s largest economy later in the session. The Fed’s closely watched annual meeting comes shortly after the central bank published its latest meeting minutes on Wednesday. The July minutes showed Fed officials who voted to lower interest rates three weeks ago agreed that the move shouldn’t be viewed as an indication that there is a “pre-set course” for future cuts. The summary indicated that policymakers viewed the move as a “mid-cycle adjustment,” an expression Chairman Jerome Powell used in a news conference afterward that was seen as contributing to a stock market sell-off after the July 30-31 meeting. The widely watched 2-year/10-year U.S. yield curve, often monitored as precursor for recession, flattened and then briefly inverted after the release of the Fed’s meeting minutes.On the data front, the latest weekly jobless claims report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Leading index data for July and the Kansas City Fed survey, manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and services PMI for August will all follow slightly later in the session. In corporate news, Hormel Foods, BJ’s Wholesale, and Dick’s Sporting Goodsare among some of the companies expected to report earnings before the opening bell., Gap and HP are among some of the firms set to release their latest quarterly results after the market close. Japanese shares were mixed on Thursday after manufacturing activity in the country shrank for a fourth straight month in August. The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed fractionally higher at 20,628.01 while the Topix index added 0.04% to 1,498.06. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.69% to 1,951.01 as major chipmakers Samsung and SK Hynix declined 1.01% and 2.64%, respectively. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.82% at 26,055.18. Mainland Chinese markets recovered: The Shenzhen component index rose 0.3% to 9,350.56, the Shenzhen composite added 0.4% to 1,578.91 and the Shanghai composite retraced earlier losses, edging up 0.11% to 2,883.44. Oil steadied above $60 a barrel on Thursday, supported by a drop in U.S. crude inventories and OPEC-led supply cuts, although worries about the global economy weighed. U.S. crude inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected. Still, the U.S. Energy Information Administration also said gasoline and distillate inventories rose. Brent crude rose 15 cents to $60.45 a barrel by 0858 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude added 29 cents to $55.97. Gold inched lower on Thursday as investors locked in profits with focus shifting to a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at Jackson Hole for clarity on the direction of monetary policy. Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,498.37 an ounce by 0947 GMT. U.S. gold futures dipped 0.5% to $1,508 an ounce.