London pre-open: Stocks to nudge down ahead of Powell, Lagarde speeches

by | Aug 25, 2023

(Sharecast News) – London stocks were set to nudge lower at the open on Friday as investors eyed speeches by Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell and ECB president Christine Lagarde at the Jackson Hole symposium in Wyoming.
The FTSE 100 was called to open 5 points lower at 7,328.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: “As we look towards today’s European open, the rise in yields and weak finish in the US, as well as weakness in Asia this morning, is set to see European markets open lower this morning.

“Much of the narrative for this month was supposed to be centred around what Fed chair Jay Powell would likely say at Jackson Hole today with respect to the prospect of another pause in the rate hiking cycle when the FOMC meets next month.

“This week’s poor economic data out of Germany and France has shifted the spotlight a touch when it comes to central bank policy towards the European Central Bank and Christine Lagarde’s speech, at 8pm tonight, after Powell who is due to speak at 3:05pm.

“When Powell spoke last year, he made it plain that there was more pain ahead for US households and that this wouldn’t deter the central bank in acting to bring down inflation, even if it meant pushing unemployment up. While Powell is unlikely to be anywhere near as hawkish, as he was last year, he won’t want to declare victory either. As we already know from recent comments from various Fed officials it is clear the Fed believes the fight against inflation is far from over, and in that context it’s unlikely he will deliver any dovish surprises.

“This belief of a slightly hawkish Powell is likely to have been behind yesterday’s sharp declines in US markets, which were driven by rising yields as investors continued to price in higher rates for longer.”

On home turf, investors were mulling the latest survey from GfK, which showed that consumer confidence rebounded in August, although the index remained in negative territory.

The consumer confidence index jumped five points from July to -25.

“Against a backdrop of falling core inflation, higher interest rates and rising average weekly earnings, the consumer confidence index has regained momentum this month with a welcome five-point improvement,” said GfK client strategy director Joe Staton.

“Although the headline figure remains strongly negative at -25, hopes for our personal financial situation for the coming year are heading back towards positive territory, a metric that is key to indicating the future financial position of households.”

Corporate news was thin on the ground, but financial trading platform CMC Markets warned that annual net operating income would be lower than last year as revenues continued to fall in a “challenging” environment.

The company said subdued market conditions had continued through August with trading and investing net revenues trending 20% lower year-on-year.

“August in particular has seen a more challenging environment with markedly lower monetisation of client trading activity due to a higher proportion of lower margin institutional volume,” CMC said.

“Should year-to-date market conditions continue for the remainder of full-year 2024 then it is expected that net operating income will be between £250 and £280m,” it added, lower than the £288m reported last year.

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