By Laura Curtis
Investors around the globe are waiting with bated breath for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s opening address at Jackson Hole Friday, with the market continuing to price in an ultra-dovish trajectory for rates. Trading activity in the U.S. has been light this week ahead of the speech. According to minutes released Wednesday, FOMC members saw the July easing as an insurance policy against headwinds from the trade war and too-low inflation — reasons that look more compelling in light of dispiriting manufacturing data. Also be on the lookout for minutes from the European Central Bank’s latest meeting as policymakers lay the groundwork for fresh stimulus that could be announced next month.
Speaking of Europe, a key gauge of the manufacturing sector in Germany showed orders at factories and services companies are dropping at the fastest pace in six years, and more companies now expect output to fall than rise over the next 12 months. Not so in France, where the same gauge showed the private sector unexpectedly gained speed in August. Solid performance in services was complemented by a return to growth in manufacturing. U.S. manufacturing PMI is due at 9:45 a.m.
Brexit hors d’oeuvre
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is having lunch with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron a day after an official said the country expects Britain to leave the European Union without a deal. Johnson is tacking Brexit talks onto his trip at this weekend’s G-7 meeting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear it’s up to the U.K. to put forward workable alternatives within 30 days. Johnson said he’s happy with the “blistering timetable” and said the U.K. still seeks a deal — while his government preps a publicity blitz to get the public ready in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined, with Hong Kong shares posting an 0.8% drop and stocks in China showing modest gains. The Topix index closed little changed. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index fell after closing higher Wednesday. S&P 500 futures dropped around 0.25% at 6:02 a.m. Eastern Time. The yield on 10-year Treasuries was 1.577%, and gold was lower.
We’ve got more retailers reporting today after strong results from Target Inc. showed industry resilience in the face of whatever fallout may be coming from the U.S.-China trade war. BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. is up first, followed by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. The Gap Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. are up after the market close along with software companies salesforce.com Inc. and Intuit Inc. Look out for initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. and the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m., after the latter showed the largest back-to-back weekly slide since March 2011.