By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets are expected to open marginally higher Friday, with investors wary of taking positions ahead of a highly anticipated speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
The Jackson Hole symposium, the Fed’s annual research conference for central bankers, is being held virtually this year, because of the Covid-19 virus, and has been the focus of the market all week as it has been often used by Fed policymakers in the past to provide guidance on future policy.
Powell is set to speak at 10 AM ET (1400 GMT), and his comments is expected to sketch a rough timeline for tapering the Fed’s bond-buying program. This would mark the beginning of the end for the central bank’s unprecedented monetary support in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Thursday that the Fed is “coalescing” around a plan to begin cutting its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases, while his counterpart at the Kansas City Fed Esther George added her voice to calls for tapering “sooner rather than later.”
Also prompting caution Friday was the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan after suicide bomb explosions outside the Kabul airport late Thursday killed numerous civilians and at least 13 U.S. soldiers.
Elsewhere, crude prices rose Friday, on track to post strong gains this week, with oil companies shutting down production in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Ida approaches the region, threatening near-term supply disruption as it nears hurricane status.
Of interest later Friday will be the release of the Baker Hughes rig count data, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s data on net positioning will also be studied for clues about the future direction of the market.
By 2:05 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.8% higher at $68.61 a barrel, heading for a weekly gain of more than 8%, while the Brent contract rose 1.6% to $71.28, on track for a rise of more than 9% this week.
European Stock Futures Marginally Higher; Powell’s Speech Limiting Activity
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