U.S. Equity Markets finished the week at all-time highs, led by the Small Cap Russell 2000 which closed with an impressive gain of 2.85%, while the NASDAQ 100 closed 1.01% higher. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and inflation data were the big stories of the day. Core personal consumption expenditures (“PCE”), the Federal Reserve’s main measure of inflation, came in well above the central bank’s 2% target again. But the monthly data fell from the month before, indicating that inflation could be normalising. In his much anticipated speech, Powell said it would be appropriate to begin pulling back on asset purchases. He elaborated that since the July meeting, price stability and employment have made even more progress. While Powell did not confirm the change will happen, his comments suggested a pullback of economic support will start soon. A formal announcement might come at the September meeting. However, he said this did not mean the Fed will raise rates anytime soon. European Markets closed mixed. French Consumer Confidence data for August was weaker than expected, declining for the second consecutive month, as increasing COVID-19 infections weighed. The European Union was said to be readying a probe into Nvidia’s planned $54 billion takeover of British chipmaker Arm, citing possible anticompetitive practices. European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said it may raise the 2021 growth forecast at the next meeting due to a stronger-than-anticipated rebound. In Asia, China’s Ministry of Finance said it will speed up local bond sales and accelerate government spending, in an effort to support economic growth. Japanese Liberal Democratic Party member Masahisa Sato stressed the importance of defense ties during a meeting with Taiwan politicians, as a way to counter pressure from China. The Bank of Korea is expected to raise interest rates one more time before Governor Lee Ju-yeol departs next spring, in an effort to normalise policy as the economy recovers. Australian Retail Sales figures for July were weaker than anticipated, falling versus June, as a resurgence in coronavirus infections caused the reintroduction of social-distancing restrictions. Elsewhere, Oil closed 1.93% as Hurricane Ida threatened supply, while Gold rose 1.46% on Dollar weakness.
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