US equities set for a sluggish start on Friday after Fed talk, Snap IPO

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After a bullish week packed with Fed talk and the massive debut of vanishing photo app Snap, US equities and the dollar are taking a breather ahead of Friday’s market open.

Futures tip the Dow Jones Industrial Average to open relatively flat, a nose ahead of the 21,000 market that it closed above for the first time ever this week. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are both eyeing a 0.15 per cent drop, to 2,378 and 5,355 respectively. The sell-off comes after another record-breaking week on Wall Street as a more congenial tone from President Donald Trump in a joint address to Congress dampened some fears that the White House may abandon business-friendly policies in lieu of more divisive stances on immigration and social issues.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, has shed 0.4 per cent to tread water around 101.8. US Treasury yields were also ticking up, with the yield on the 10-year note — which moves inversely to its price — picking up 1.1 basis points to hit 2.49 per cent.

Things are likely to remain quiet, analysts think, ahead of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s remarks later on Friday, which will be closely watched by investors to see if she seconds a flurry of comments from Fed policymakers this week that have put an interest-rate increase firmly on the table for this month’s meeting.

Markets have scrambled to price in that expectation ahead of that meeting, but a pooh-pooh from Ms Yellen may send them reeling in the opposite direction. Another Fed speaker, vice-chair Stan Fisher, will also be priming the pump with remarks set for a half-hour before Ms Yellen takes the stage.

Overseas markets mirrored the subdued tone set by Wall Street, with the Nikkei and Hang Seng both closing down, and the Dax and FTSE 100 both sitting lower as they head into the weekend.

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