All three major US stock indexes were trading around the flatline on Friday as investors refrained from placing big bets ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech at the Jackson Hole symposium. Markets were bracing for what will likely be a hawkish message from Powell, with the Fed's chief reaffirming the central bank's commitment to bring inflation back to its 2% target at all costs. Market moves came despite a key inflation index pointing to further evidence that inflation may be cooling. The Federal Reserve's favorite inflation rate, the PCE price index, showed that core inflation eased more than expected in July, giving the central bank room to scale back its aggressive tightening. Meanwhile, another report showed that US consumer spending scarcely increased in July, exacerbating concerns about a consumer slowdown. Following the release, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic affirmed its support for a 50 basis point rate hike in September.
Report showed consumer confidence in Germany fell to a record low heading into September, worse than market forecasts.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.5% on Friday, extending a 0.1% increase in the previous session buoyed by miners such as Anglo American, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto which tracked higher base metal prices and gained all more than 2%. For the week, however, the index is still down 0.4% as inflation and growth concerns continued to hang over the market. Also, Ofgem announced it will increase the price cap on energy bills by 80% to £3,549, in October, following a 54% hike in April, and representing a big rise in energy costs for British households.
The CAC 40 was trading near the flatline at 6,383 on Friday. On the data front, confidence among French consumers unexpectedly edged higher in August. Among single stocks, pharmaceutical multinational Sanofi was up nearly 2%, while Unibail Rodamco and Teleperformance were the main draggers, shedding over 2% each. For the week, the CAC 40 is set to fall around 1.7%.
The FTSE MIB traded higher on Friday, extending gains into a fourth day and clawing back losses from a massive sell-off on Monday. Among single stocks, Telecom Italia was up more than 2%, followed by Unicredit (1.6%) and Stellantis (1.4%).
Spain’s benchmark stock index traded little changed just below the 8200 level on Friday. The bank sector extended last session's gains, namely Sabadell (2.30%) and Santander (1.20%), with investors also keeping an eye on BBVA (1.2%), as analysts foresee record-breaking profits. Dia and Arcelor Mitall also showed a good performance, clocking nearly 1.50% in gains. In the opposite direction, Griifols tumbled the furthest (-1.80%), followed by Tecnicas Reunidas, Mediaset, and Cellnex, with the trio losing around 1%.