LONDON – Stock markets around the world edged higher Friday ahead of a raft of speeches from top central bankers meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was up 0.3 percent at 5,126 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.4 percent to 7,435. Germany's DAX was 0.4 percent higher at 12,223. U.S. stocks were heading for modest gains at the open with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent.
CENTRAL BANKS: The main focus across all financial markets is the symposium in Jackson Hole. The most watched events Friday will be speeches from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. Though neither is expected to relay anything substantial on their path of their banks' future intentions, investors know that they could spring a surprise and won't want to be caught short ahead of the weekend. Traders will be monitoring the event to see if Yellen says anything about the prospects of a Fed rate hike later this year and if Draghi gives a hint as to when the ECB will start reining back its stimulus. Anything he says about the strong euro will also be of interest.
ANALYST TAKE: "The Jackson Hole Symposium is widely regarded as one of the most notable annual events, not only because of the speakers it attracts but also because it has been used as a platform to warn of upcoming policy announcements," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
CURRENCIES: The foreign exchange markets will likely be the initial outlet for any unexpected comments from either central banker. Ahead of their speeches, trading was lackluster with the euro up 0.2 percent to $1.1820 and the dollar 0.1 percent firmer at 106.67 yen.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.5 percent to finish at 19,452.61. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was little changed at 5,743.90. South Korea's Kospi was up 0.1 percent at 2,378.51. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2 percent to 27,852.36, while the Shanghai Composite index was up 1.8 percent at 3,331.52.
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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 31 cents to $47.74 a barrel, while Brent crude, the international standard, firmed 45 cents to $52.11 a barrel.