Stock futures trade lower ahead of Fed speech, GDP report

Discount retailers and PC makers will report earnings

U.S. equity futures are trading lower heading into the Thursday session on Wall Street.

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The major futures indexes are suggesting a decline of 0.3 percent.

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Investors are watching Fed chairman Jerome Powell's speech as part of the U.S. central bank's annual Jackson Hole symposium. Officials in the past have used the meeting, being held online this year, to make market-moving announcements.

This year, forecasters expect Powell to talk about inflation and the importance of Congress delivering more economic aid after its last round of stimulus expired. Partisan disagreements have prevented an agreement.

POWELL EDGES TOWARD LOOSENING THE FED'S STANCE ON INFLATION

While the Fed keeps interest rates near zero, Powell has said previously Congress needs to take action.

There is also a full plate of economic data scheduled.

The Commerce Department is expected to say the second reading on second quarter gross domestic product fell at an annualized pace of 32.5% last quarter, a slight improvement from the first (advance) estimate of -32.9% released last month, which was the worst annualized decline on record,.

At the same time the Labor Department is expected to say the number of claims for unemployment benefits declined to 1 million, down slightly from the previous week’s tally of 1.106 million. Since the lockdowns began some 57.4 million people have filed for jobless benefits.

 NEW HOME SALES SURGE IN JULY, HIGHEST SINCE 2006

Finally, the National Association of Realtors will release its index of pending home sales for July.  Economists are looking for a rise of 3% from 116.1 in June, which was the highest reading in 14 ½ years.

Discount retailers Dollar General and Dollar Tree will lead off a string of retail-related earnings Thursday morning, which include apparel retailers Burlington Stores and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Gap reports in the afternoon along with PC makers Dell Technologies and HP.

In Europe, London's FTSE is down 0.2%, Germany's DAX is off 0.4% and France's CAC declined 0.5%.

In Asia, the Nikkei in Tokyo fell 0.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8% and China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.6%.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index hit another high, closing up 1% on Wednesday on strong gains for tech stocks, though most of the other companies in the index declined.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27657.42-244.56-0.88%
SP500S&P 5003319.47-37.54-1.12%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX10793.28193-116.99-1.07%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to 28,331.92. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 1.7% to 11,665.06, its third-straight record high.

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Benchmark U.S. crude oil was lower by 16 cents at $43.23 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 4 cents on Wednesday to $43.39. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, is lower by 4 cents at $45.60 per barrel in London. It fell 22 cents the pervious session to $45.64.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.