Investors focused on Fed Jackson Hole symposium

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SINGAPORE — Stock futures in Asia-Pacific pointed to a muted open on Friday, with investors looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium where Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak.

SPI futures in Australia traded down 0.14% and was a touch lower from the benchmark ASX 200‘s previous close at 7,491.2.

Nikkei futures were also lower than the Japanese index’s last close at 27,742.29, indicating to likely losses when markets open.

The highly anticipated Jackson Hole symposium from the Fed will be held virtually on Friday. Investors are expecting to hear what Powell thinks about the state of the U.S. economy and how he might guide the central bank’s exit from the measures it took to rescue the economy from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Fed chairs have a track record of foreshadowing major policy announcements at Jackson Hole, and some investors think Powell will provide further clues around the timing of a tapering announcement, which could come as soon as the FOMC meeting next month,” Tapas Strickland, director of economics and markets at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a Friday morning note.

Strickland pointed out that an announcement on tapering is “highly likely” to come before the end of the year.

In overnight trade, the three major U.S. indexes finished lower during Thursday’s regular trading session. The Dow snapped a four-day win streak while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both broke five-day win streaks.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar last traded at 93.062 against a basket of its peers. The greenback fell from levels above 93.600 reached in the previous week.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.04 against the dollar, weakening from levels near 109.50 earlier in the week. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7243, climbing from an earlier low of $0.7233.

Oil prices rose Friday during Asian trading hours, where U.S. crude added 0.7% to $67.89. Prices fell overnight as new Covid outbreaks raised concerns about the recovery in global demand for oil.

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