Powell speaks; UK pound under pressure; Markets wait

Posted at 3:30 AM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 07:21:09-04

1. Powell speaks: All eyes are on Jerome Powell as the Federal Reserve chair begins two days of testimony before Congress.

Investors will scrutinize his remarks for evidence that the Fed will cut rates when it meets later this month, and if so, by how much. A strong jobs report for June has weakened the case for a big move.

Lawmakers may also press Powell on the Fed’s independence in light of repeated criticism from President Donald Trump.

Trump has recently said the central bank was acting like a “stubborn child” for refusing to pursue easy money policies and tweeted that the Fed “doesn’t know what it is doing.”

Powell has pushed back, defending the institution and its insulation from “short-term political interests.”

The central banker will appear before the House Financial Services Committee at 10 a.m. ET. The Fed also releases minutes from its June meeting at 2 p.m. ET.

2. Pound under pressure: The pound is hovering near a two-year low against the US dollar as the race to replace Prime Minister Theresa May produces fresh anxiety about Brexit.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed May, has warned that he could take the United Kingdom out of the European Union on October 31 without a deal that protects trade.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note Wednesday that the odds of leaving without a deal have shot up — though it still isn’t their base expectation.

“We think persistent uncertainty is the most appropriate forecast,” they said.

Britain’s economy grew 0.3% in May, according to data released Wednesday. That eases the pain of a 0.4% decline in April, but does little to change the picture of a weak economy overall and possible negative growth in the second quarter.

Want more markets? Watch CNN’s “Markets Now” digital live show Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. ET.

3. Markets in wait: Markets lack direction ahead of Powell’s remarks.

US stock futures point lower. The Dow is set to fall 40 points, or 0.2%. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 are set for similar losses.

European markets opened mixed. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1%, while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX slipped.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3%, but the Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.2%.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.1% on Tuesday. The S&P 500 increased 0.1%, and the Nasdaq was rose 0.5%.

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4. Coming this week:
Wednesday — US oil inventories; Fed minutes; Bed Bath & Beyond earnings; Powell testifies in the House
Thursday — US inflation rate; China balance of trade; Delta earnings; Powell testifies in the Senate
Friday — US producer prices