U.S. stock futures suggest a subdued opening to markets on Monday ahead of durable goods orders data, and following reports that the predominant sentiment at the U.S. Federal Reserve's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., over the weekend, suggested that the central bank could begin scaling down its bond-buying program in September, albeit at a modest rate of $10 billion a month.
“The message is right now that they go in September. I haven’t heard anything to suggest expectations for a September move are off-base,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told MarketWatch.
Former Fed governor Randall Kroszner, an economist at the University of Chicago, told Fox Business that unemployment data for August, which is due to be released on Sept. 6, could be a decisive factor in the Fed’s decision-making process.
"My guess is that if it's north of 200,000 [new jobs]--a strong report--plus [there are] some positive revisions to the previous months, then that's possibly going to push a few people on the edge [at the FOMC] to do it," he said, referring to the decision about the tapering of the asset-purchase program.
"If it's less than 150,000 and there are some negative revisions to the previous months, probably some people will step back. But the nightmare scenario is that it's probably somewhere in the middle--which is probably the most likely outcome--and will cause some more consternation, both for the FOMC members and the markets," he added.
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Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading down 0.12 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.07 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.06 percent.
Investors are also likely to focus on durable goods orders data to be reported at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Analysts polled by Reuters predict that durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for durables goods, may decrease by 4 percent in July after gaining 3.9 percent in the previous month. The core durable goods orders for July, which exclude transportation items, are expected to go up 0.3 percent after recording flat growth in June.
“Although a sharp fall in aircraft orders should mean that total durable goods fell by more than 4.0 percent m/m in July, the survey evidence suggests that core orders rose at a healthy clip. In contrast, subdued personal spending (Friday) on services in July probably meant that consumption began the third quarter on a weak note,” Paul Dales, an economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.
In Europe, markets traded lower on Monday with the Stoxx Europe 600 index trading down 0.27percent, Germany's DAX-30 down 0.23 percent and France's CAC-40 trading down 0.58 percent. UK markets were closed for a bank holiday.
In Asia, most markets except Japan's traded higher, and shares in China and Hong Kong rose after local media reports quoted a National Bureau of Statistics spokesman as saying that China will meet its 7.5 percent growth target for this year.
The Shanghai Composite index rallied 1.90 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.65 percent. Japan’s Nikkei ended down 0.18 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.23 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index added 0.95 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.22 percent in late-afternoon trade.