Before the bell: What you need to know before the US market open

Billy Bambrough
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Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen Gives Semiannual Monetary Policy Report To Senate Committee
Markets are keenly waiting to hear from Fed chair Janet Yellen (Source: Getty)

Jackson Hole – the annual US economic symposium – is now underway with market watchers keenly awaiting clues on a September Fed rate hike.

Here's what you need to know before the US market open at 2:30pm London time.

US markets are not looking perky ahead in the pre-market. The S&P is off by 0.24 per cent, the Nasdaq is 0.24 per cent lower also, and the Dow is down by 0.22 per cent. The US 10-year yield is down two basis points at 1.54 per cent.

Read more: German investors aren't worried about Brexit - yet

The US pre-market slump follows a dip in the first half of the session for European markets, with French and German stocks down one per cent following disappointing economic data.

Asian markets finished mostly weaker, bar a 1.1 per cent rise in Taiwan.

Diving in to Jackson Hole

The topic of this year's symposium — which runs from today through to Saturday — is Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future, but really the only issue up for debate is whether the US is plotting another interest rate hike in September.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will address the group in a speech tomorrow and she could use it as an opportunity to signal a more or less aggressive policy stance from the Fed going forward.

The Fed's next monetary policy decision is due out on 14 September.

Europe's summer slump

The powerhouses of the Eurozone could be languishing in a summer slump, the latest figures have hinted.

Measures of business confidence in both Germany and France missed expectations this morning, denting prospects for either economy to bounce back from a growth slowdown in the run-up to the UK's EU referendum.

Stocks to watch

Apple is in the spotlight after top officials in the US raised concerns over Europe's probes into the tax arrangements of companies such as Apple.

An investigation is due to be wrapped up imminently and could result in a multi-billion pound bill for the tech company.

Read more: Now Microsoft's UK tax arrangements are under scrutiny

Soft drink stocks – the likes of Coca Cola and Pepsi – will be feeling the pressure today after the American Journal of Public Health found that the sugary-beverage tax of a penny per ounce in Berkeley, California, lowered consumption there by 21 per cent.

This could mean we'll be seeing similar measures brought in elsewhere.

Companies reporting today

Discount stores Dollar General and Dollar Tree join watchmaker Movado, department store Sears, jeweller Tiffany and TD Bank in releasing earnings ahead of the open.

Later tonight we'll get the latest numbers from video game retailer GameStop.

In economic news

The US Department of Labor is releasing its weekly jobless claims data. Early estimates suggest initial jobless claims have been below 300,000 each week for the last 76 weeks – something that hasn't happened since 1970.

The latest Markit US Services PMI is out just after the market open at 2:45pm London time.

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