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U.S. stock futures on hold amid central banker deluge

Published 11/18/2016, 07:06 AM
Updated 11/18/2016, 07:27 AM
© Reuters.  Wall Street futures trade flat as central bankers capture market attention
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Investing.com - Wall Street futures pointed to a flat open on Friday in a session dominated by central bank speakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The blue-chip Dow futures edged down 11 points, or 0.06%, by 7:04AM ET (12:04GMT), the S&P 500 futures lost 2 points, or 0.08%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 1 point, or 0.01%.

Federal Reserve (Fed) chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to Congress on Thursday suggested that the U.S. central bank would be ready to hike rates at the December 13-14 meeting.

Yellen’s remarks, coupled with a strong reading on the labor market as initial jobless claims hit their lowest level since 1973, continued to support the dollar on Friday.

The greenback hit fresh 14-year highs against a basket of other currencies Friday, marking an intraday high of 101.44. That was its highest level since April 2003.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.01% to 101.01 by 7:06AM ET (12:06GMT).

On the other side of the Atlantic, investors were focused on European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi who promised to maintain monetary stimulus until it was clear that euro zone inflation was self-sustainable

"Going forward, our assessment will depend on whether we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation towards that objective," Draghi told the European Banking Conference in Frankfurt.

"And that means that inflation convergence towards 2% is durable, even with a reduction in monetary accommodation. Inflation dynamics, in other words, need to be self-sustained," he explained.

Draghi’s dovish comments, coupled with the strength in the dollar, took EUR/USD to an intraday low of 1.0582 on Friday. It was last trading flat, but if the pair were to end the day in the read, the 10-day losing streak would be its longest stretch since the creation of the euro in 1999.

Stateside, investors would digest a deluge of comments from Fed officials.

Earlier on Friday, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard indicated that he would likely support a December rate hike.

"Markets are currently putting a high probability on a December move by the FOMC,” he said.

“I’m leaning toward supporting that," Bullard added.

New York Fed president William Dudley, Kansas City Fed chief Esther George, Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan, Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans and Fed governor Jerome Powell will all make appearances throughout the day.

On a light day for economic data, the Conference Board will release its leading indicators for October at 10:00AM ET (15:00GMT).

On the earnings front, Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) beat on profit, but saw revenue settle in line with forecasts.

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) was also scheduled to report before the bell.

Oil prices edged higher on Friday on hopes of a potential oil production freeze deal.

After a meeting with some OPEC counterparts on Friday in Qatar, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said he was confident the cartel would be able to reach an agreement by their official meeting on November 30.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih had said on Thursday that he was optimistic that OPEC would formalize a preliminary oil output deal reached in Algeria in September.

Sources told Reuters on Friday that part of the eventual agreement involved Iran capping its production at around 3.92 million barrels per day, despite the fact that Tehran has constantly insisted that 4 million is the pre-sanction mark it wishes to reach before considering a freeze.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.53% to $45.66 by 7:26AM ET (12:26GMT), while Brent oil gained 0.60% to $46.77.

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