NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. futures moved sharply higher Friday less than an hour before Chairman Ben Bernanke was to address a Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole. Many investors are already pricing in expectations that the Fed will take no major action to reinvigorate the economy, at least no action just yet.
While all major indexes will likely end lower for the week marked by very light trading, it appeared that some investors had not completely written off some form of support from the Fed, even if the chances are slim.
Dow Jones industrial futures rose 114 points to 13,096. The broader S&P futures tacked on 12.4 points to 1,409.50 and Nasdaq futures gained 27.25 points to 2,781.
Many investors have remained on the sidelines all week ahead of the Fed meeting and they’ll be looking for any glimpse of even potential action from fiscal policy makers.
Short of another round of bond buying, that could include potentially extending its forecast for lowered interest rates, perhaps until at least 2015.
Interest rates have been held at record lows since December 2008, but the Fed has begun to supply expiration dates, the first time through the middle of next year, and then, in January, through at least late 2014.
Many believe that the Fed will not pull the trigger on new measures now, instead holding its firepower in reserve in the event that the European economy deteriorates further.
The unemployment rate across the 17 countries that use the euro remained at a record high of 11.3 percent in July, official figures showed Friday.
The European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, said 88,000 more people were without a job in July — for a total of 18 million.
With an unemployment rate up 1.2 points from last year, the European Union has not faced such severe joblessness in the 12 years since the monetary union was formed.
Two countries at the center of the European crisis, Spain and Greece, saw joblessness rise again. In both countries, more than half of all young people have no jobs and few prospects for one.
In the U.S. Friday, the Commerce Department reports on monthly factory orders at 10 a.m. Eastern and economists expect a 2 percent gain for July.
But there are signs that the manufacturing sector, which had seen steady gains, may be faltering.
Demand for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector was down in July and has fallen for four of the past five months.
Part of that decline is tied directly to the crisis in Europe.