U.S. stocks extended gains Thursday, while a softer U.S. dollar helped pulled Treasury bond yields modestly lower, as investors looked to the start of the Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium and what could be an important reading of second quarter growth.
Stocks are still moving in lock-step with interest rate expectations, however, and investors appear to be worried the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will double-down on the central bank’s inflation fight when he speaks at its annual retreat in the resort town in Wyoming.
However, a series of grim readings for the housing sector, a surging U.S. dollar and slowing manufacturing activity over the month of August may have blunted domestic growth enough to allow for a more dovish outlook on rates, particularly given that fact that some of the biggest economies in the world outside of the United States are likely to slow precipitously over the second half of the year.
Still, bets on another 75 basis point rate hike from the Fed, following two similar increases in June and July, edged higher overnight, to 60.5%, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool, even as the dollar slipped lower against its global peers.
The moves could be linked to a surprise reading of second quarter GDP in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which clawed its way to a 0.1% gain over the three months ending in July.
Reaction to that reading was muted, however, by a closely-watched survey of business expectations published by the Ifo Institute, which pointed to a sharp third quarter slowdown.
Here at home, investors will get a second estimate of second quarter GDP, which is estimated to have contracted 0.8%, as well as weekly jobless claims data prior to the start of trading, each of which is likely to factor into Powell’s thinking — and speech — tomorrow in Wyoming at 10:00 am Eastern time.