Durable goods orders fall 6.8% in July; Hurricane Harvey barrels toward Texas
U.S. stocks looked set to finish the week with modest gains with futures pointing to a higher open Friday, as investors geared up for Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's Jackson Hole speech.
There were small ripples in stock-index futures 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.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 46 points, or 0.2%, to 21,823, while S&P 500 futures were up by 6.45 points, or 0.3%, at 2,447.75 after earlier wading in the red. Nasdaq-100 futures picked up 20.25 points, or 0.4%, to 5,861.
But the attention is firmly on the economic 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, when investors will listen closely to her words for monetary-policy clues.
"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)
The seasonally low-volume period can also make markets prone to swings. On Thursday, the main U.S. stock indexes finished a volatile session slightly lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-perk-up-before-central-bankers-take-center-stage-in-wyoming-2017-08-24). The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.1% lower, the S&P 500 shed 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.1%.
For the week, the Dow was on course to rise 0.5%, the S&P 500 looked set to add 0.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite was on track for a 0.9% advance, which would end a four-week run of declines.
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)
But she won't be the only headliner at the Jackson Hole summit, which started Thursday and runs through Saturday.
Stocks in focus:Adamas Pharmaceuticals Inc.(ADMS) shares surged 45% premarket 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 4.8% in low premarket volume trading 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 1.7% premarket 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 0.7% in low volume trading 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.
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 93.17.
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 09:09 ET (13:09 GMT)