US pre-open: Futures point to another day in the red ahead of Yellen's speech

LONDON (ShareCast) – Dow Futures pointed to a fifth consecutive day in the red on Friday, as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to open approximately, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are expected to begin the final session of the week On Thursday, stocks fell for a fourth consecutive day as the S&P 500 turned negative for the year on the back of its longest losing streak since January.

Investors will closely monitor Yellen’s speech in at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Conference on “the New Normal for Monetary Policy” at 19:45 GMT to find out whether the Fed chairwoman will shed any light on the timing of the next interest rates hike.

In terms of economic data, the final reading on the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment index for March is released at 13:55 GMT.

Meanwhile, the US economy grew 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014 unchanged from the government’s estimate and less than half the 5% pace it grew at in the previous three months.

In company news, biotech firm Orexigen Therapeutics (NasdaqGS: OREX – news) jumped almost 10% before the open after receiving the green light from European regulators for its Mysimba diet drug.

Smartphone provider BlackBerry rose almost 5% after reporting fourth quarter earnings of four cents per share against expectations of a four cent loss.

Footwear retailer Finish Line (NasdaqGS: FINL – news) jumped almost 5% after reporting better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings.

Going the other way, videogame retailer GameStop Corp (NYSE: GME – news) fell as much as 5.8% in pre-market trading after its quarterly results and outlook fell short of Wall Street’s expectations late on Thursday.

Restoration Hardware Holdings fell 5.4% ahead of the bell despite reporting a 60% increase year-on-year in fourth quarter earnings late on Thursday.

After marking a five-day winning streak on Thursday, oil prices fell on Friday, with West Texas Intermediate losing 0.94% to $ 50.95 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 1.28% to $ 58.44 a barrel.

“The glut in oil supplies at the moment has capped any significant risk premium being added to prices,” said Oanda‘s senior market analyst Craig Erlam.

“Oil has been in contango for quite a while now which has led to a record amount of offshore storage, to the point that availability is fast running out.” The dollar fell 0.4% against the pound and 0.1% against both the yen and the euro, while gold futures slid 0.41% to $ 1,199.90.

Dow Futures

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