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Markets flat before Jackson Hole

On a day all about speeches from across the Atlantic, the FTSE 100 has made an early beeline for the three-day weekend and is flat at 6775.

London skyline
Source: Bloomberg

Jackson Hole marks the beginning of the end of summer, with some market-watchers desperately counting the days until September and a little more action. Ahead of the afternoon’s exercise in central bank public speaking, a glance at the economic calendar tells us today is all about speeches, with just a data dump north of Niagara for loonie-watchers.

US markets made another closing high yesterday, and the S&P 500 is a dove’s wingspan from its first 2000 tick. The market expects a dovish offering from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen when she speaks early in the US trading day. If we are to get to 2000 today, we probably also need some colour from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi after the European close. It might be time to start explaining the what in 'whatever it takes' if the slide in European data is to be halted.

Back in London and the prospect of a three-day weekend is no help to the volume chart of the UK’s leading shares. The weeks around the August bank holiday are normally some of the quietest of the year, and this one has been no exception. Rehashed bid talk in the morning’s newspapers in Vodafone (+0.9%) has got a few people excited.

Banking stocks are edging higher, led by HSBC (+0.8%) who has weighed into the imminent Scottish independence referendum, citing the capital flight that will immediately result from a breakup of the union.

The airlines continue to slide as fears over seismic activity in Iceland give investors and travellers déjà vu of the chaos caused in 2010. easyJet (-1.8%), IAG (-1%) and Ryanair (-0.5%) are all lower.

Rounding out the fallers is Petrofac (-2%), with news that its chairman is stepping aside. 

With around four hours to go till US equities open, we see both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 opening unchanged around 17,040 and 1992 respectively.

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