5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday
U.S. stock futures were pointing to losses at Thursday's open after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to new highs and ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech set for 9:10 a.m. ET. The central bank chief addresses the Kansas City Fed's annual symposium, held virtually this year instead of at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, against the backdrop of extraordinary monetary policy measures designed to combat the negative economic effects of the coronavirus.
Forty minutes before Powell's address, the Labor Department is set to report its weekly look at jobless claims. Economists expect that 1 million people filed for first time unemployment benefits last week after over 1.1 million new claims the prior week. The Commerce Department, also at 8:30 a.m. ET, is set to report little change in its second look at second-quarter gross domestic product. An economic contraction of 32.4% is seen.
2. Monster Category 4 Hurricane Laura hits Gulf Coast
Hurricane Laura pounded the Gulf Coast for hours with ferocious wind and torrential rain as it roared ashore as a monster Category 4 storm over southwestern Louisiana near the Texas line early Thursday. The region is home to about half of America's oil refineries. U.S. gasoline futures were actually down 2% on Thursday morning while West Texas Intermediate crude prices were flat. Laura made landfall as a more powerful storm than devastating Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the Gulf Coast 15 years ago Saturday.
3. GOP works on a narrow coronavirus stimulus bill
Republicans are working on a more narrow coronavirus stimulus bill that they could release this week, two senior Trump administration officials and three people briefed on the matter told CNBC. The GOP is mulling a roughly $500 billion proposal that addresses only areas of bipartisan support, including expanded unemployment insurance, but not another direct payment to Americans.
Abbott Laboratories said late Wednesday it has received U.S. authorization for a portable Covid-19 test that can deliver results within 15 minutes and costs $5. Abbott expects to ship tens of millions of these tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month shortly thereafter. Shares of Abbott jumped 9.5% in Thursday's premarket trading on the announcement.
4. Trump to make his case for four more years
One day after Vice President Mike Pence's measured speech, President Donald Trump accepts the GOP nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention. The president's address Thursday night comes as the nation endures a pandemic, a battered economy, a racial reckoning and a massive hurricane.
Following Trump's push for China-based ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok interests, the CEO of the wildly popular video app has stepped down. Kevin Mayer, who was previously Disney's head of streaming, joined TikTok as chief executive just two months ago. He cited the changing political environment for this decision.
5. Teams protesting racial injustice refuse to play games
The Milwaukee Bucks' refusal to play their playoff game Wednesday night to protest racial injustice after Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin sent a ripple effect across sports leagues. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the WNBA also saw cancellations.
NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours Wednesday night to determine next steps, including whether the season should continue. Many players wrestled for weeks about whether it was even right to play, fearing that a return to games would take attention away from the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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