Durable goods orders fall 6.8% in July; Hurricane Harvey barrels toward Texas
U.S. stocks edged higher in early Friday trade and the main indexes looked set to finish the week with modest gains, as investors geared up for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's Jackson Hole speech.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 68 points, or 0.3%, to 21,850 and was on track for a 0.8% weekly gain, after two weeks of declines.
The S&P 500 advanced by 8 points, or 0.4%, to 2,447, with all 11 main sectors trading higher. The benchmark index looked set to finish the week 0.9% higher.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 20 points, or 0.3%, to 6,291 and was on track to finish the week 1.2% higher. This would be the first weekly gain in five weeks.
Much of investor attention was directed at the symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where global central bankers are gathering over the next few days. The wait for Yellen finally ends when she speaks Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern.
"Comments made by U.S. policy makers so far from the Wyoming gathering have generally been supportive not just of an unwinding of the Fed's bloated balance sheet, but also for another rate hike before the end of the year," said Henry Croft, research analyst at Accendo Markets.
"Markets now look to Yellen to clarify the institution's stance on both of these pivotal events, with any shred of new information likely to be thoroughly scrutinized by investors," he said in a note.
Also:Fed watchers still fret about policy missteps as Jackson Hole gets under way (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-watchers-still-fret-about-policy-missteps-as-jackson-hole-gets-under-way-2017-08-24)
Jackson Hole powwow: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will also be closely followed for hints as to when and how the bank will begin to unwind its monetary easing.
"The ECB President has made a habit of going off script at Jackson Hole in the past, and whilst a report from Reuters last week stated insiders believed no major policy announcements were to be made, many are hoping he may let slip an implicit hint at the start date of the ECB's long-awaited [quantitative easing] taper," said Croft.
Draghi is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Read:Here's what investors will be watching when Draghi, Yellen speak at Jackson Hole (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-investors-will-be-watching-when-draghi-yellen-speak-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-22)
In an interview with the Financial Times (https://www.ft.com/content/0169006e-8946-11e7-bf50-e1c239b45787), Gary Cohn, the head of President Trump's National Economic Council, said that Trump will begin his push for tax reform, outlining his agenda in a speech next week.
Cohn also said that Congress "has to increase the debt ceiling" and that the U.S. "cannot be put in a position where we default."
Stocks in focus:Adamas Pharmaceuticals Inc.(ADMS) shares surged after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Thursday approved the company's Gocovri treatment of dyskinesia, (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/adamas-pharma-shares-soar-on-parkinsons-dyskinesia-drug-approval-2017-08-24) or abnormal or involuntary movements associated with Parkinson's disease.
Ulta Beauty Inc.(ULTA) shares dropped after the retailer's results late Thursday showed second-quarter sales growth slowed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ulta-beauty-shares-fall-as-companys-sales-growth-slows-2017-08-24). Earnings were above Wall Street's expectations.
Shares of Dollar Tree Inc.(DLTR) rose after Raymond James upgraded the stock to strong buy from market perform and assigned it a stock price target of $95, or 21% above its current trading level.
Twitter Inc.(TWTR) shares were off after Jefferies analyst Brent Thill downgraded the social-media company to hold from buy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/twitter-shares-fall-after-downgrade-facebook-is-clear-winner-analyst-says-2017-08-24) on Thursday.
There were small ripples in stock-index futures ahead of the opening bell following data on durable goods (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/orders-for-durable-goods-sink-68-in-july-the-most-in-nearly-three-years-2017-08-25)which fell by the largest amount in three years. A 6.8% drop in July was largely due to volatile aircraft sector, however. Excluding transports, orders rose modestly.
Other markets: The dollar is likely to be a focus as the key speeches at Jackson Hole roll out, but was lackluster early Friday. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index , a gauge of the greenback against six rivals, was slightly lower at 93.20.
The euro was slightly stronger against the dollar with the shared currency buying $1.1820.
Oil prices were up 0.8% but still holding below $48 a barrel. Investors will watch for developments surrounding Hurricane Harvey, with Texas bracing for a potential category-three storm.
Read:Why Gulf of Mexico's Hurricane Harvey is bearish for oil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-gulf-of-mexico-storm-harvey-is-bearish-for-oil-2017-08-24)
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.1%, and Japan's Nikkei tacked on 0.5%. European equities pushed modestly highly. Gold prices were largely unchanged at $1,292.60 an ounce.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 25, 2017 09:47 ET (13:47 GMT)
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