Stock futures edge higher before Powell speech

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday as investors looked to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole for confirmation that the central bank will cut interest rates next month.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

After three straight week of falls on fears about the deepening trade war with China and its impact on growth, the main Wall Street indexes are on course to end the week higher thanks to signs that U.S. consumer demand remains strong.

Crucial to the more positive mood, however, is the assumption that the Fed and other central banks, as well as some governments, are ready to take more action to stave off any risk of a slide into recession in the months ahead.

The minutes of the Fed’s meeting in July, issued earlier this week, showed policymakers in doubt about whether a full cycle of rate cuts was justified.

Stock investors are hoping Powell will sound more convinced when he speaks at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) although most analysts were playing down the chance of a strong commitment on more cuts.

“While they will likely go along with the market’s expectations for more cuts, even the most dovish amongst us must now concede the Fed will fall short of signaling a willingness to race ahead of the curve,” Stephen Innes, managing partner of VM Markets, said in a note.

Still, the mood has turned more positive this week, and by 6:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 39 points, or 0.15%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 5.75 points, or 0.2% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 20.75 points, or 0.27%.

That puts the indexes on course for gains of more than 1% this week.

Recent U.S. economic data has shown the labor market and consumer demand remained strong even as the manufacturing sector suffered a contraction this month, joining a global slowdown due to trade tensions.

On the trade front, China’s Global Times editor in chief said in a tweet that Beijing will take further countermeasures in response to U.S. tariffs on $300 billion Chinese goods.

Among stocks, shares of Inc (CRM.N) jumped about 7% premarket after cloud-based service provider forecast third-quarter and full-year revenue above Wall Street estimates.

HP Inc (HPQ.N) dropped 8.1% after Chief Executive Officer Dion Weisler stepped down and the PC maker forecast fourth-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates.

Shares of Foot Locker Inc (FL.N) plunged 11.8% after the footwear retailer missed estimates on second-quarter revenue and profit.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru

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