10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here is what you need to know.

It sounds like the Fed can’t wait to raise rates. Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer participated in a panel at the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole Symposium over the weekend. Fischer suggested, “Given the apparent stability of inflation expectations, there is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding down inflation dissipate further.” He continued, “With inflation low, we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace.” Fischer went on to say, “Yet, because monetary policy influences real activity with a substantial lag, we should not wait until inflation is back to 2% to begin tightening.” The Fed’s next policy decision comes on September 17.

China took more action to provide liquidity. Beijing announced it will pump another 140 billion renminbi into the system to further ease liquidity. The announcement follows more selling of Chinese stocks, which pushed the Shanghai Composite to a loss of 12.5% in August. The index has lost 30% over the past three months.

The ‘Las Vegas of China’ is seeing a dramatic slowdown. Macau’s economy contracted by 26.4% from a year ago as Beijing’s crackdown on VIP gaming has kept away highrollers from mainland China. The FT reports Macau’s economy is not collapsing despite the huge contraction as tourists are still visting the island and unemployment sits at just 1.8%. The quarter was the worst for Macau since it reverted back to mainland China rule in 1999, according to the FT.

Hong Kong’s retail sales point to further evidence of a slowdown in China. The volume of retail sales in Hong Kong grew at a revised 1.9% year-over-year clip in July, far slower than the initial reading of up 4.4%. Economists had forecast growth of 2.8%. Meanwhile, the value of goods sold fell 2.8% versus last year, which was a bigger drop than the 1.3% decline that economists were expecting. Jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts saw a 5% decline compared to year ago. “The near-term performance of retail sales will continue to hinge on inbound tourism growth and on whether there would be any negative spillover from the increased stock market volatility of late,” a government spokesperson said.

Euro zone CPI was in-line. Euro zone CPI Flash Estimate held at an annual rate of up 0.2% in August, matching estimates. Core CPI Flash Estimate was also in-line with expectations, duplicating its prior reading of up 1.0% year-over-year. The euro is stronger by 0.2% at 1.1207.

Citigroup is trying to rebuild its equities franchise. Citigroup is looking to take market share in the equities space after finally getting back on track after the financial crisis. People with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, Citigroup’s rivals have been slow to adapt to new rules designed to make the financial system less risky, and that has created an opening for the investment bank. Citigroup plans to improve its relationship with hedge funds as well as “overhaul its trading technology, hiring key executives, expanding research and boosting the unit’s financing,” according to Reuters.

A huge gas field was found in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian energy giant Eni says it has found “what could become one of the world’s largest natural gas finds.” The Zohr gas field could potentially hold up to 30 trillion cubic feet of gas and 5.5 billion barrels of oil. According to Eni, the discovery is about 120 miles north of Egypt and at a depth of 4,757 feet.

Stock markets around the world are lower. Japan’s Nikkei (-1.3%) paced the decline in overnight trade while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (+0.3%) outperformed. In Europe, Spain’s IBEX (-0.6%) is the weakest link and Britain’s FTSE is closed for holiday. S&P 500 futures are lower by 17 basis points at 1972.75.

US economic data is light. Data is limited to the 9:45 a.m. ET release of Chicago PMI. The US 10-year yield is down 2 basis points at 2.16%.

Earnings reports are quiet. No companies are scheduled to release their quarterly results ahead of the market open. Adept Technology, Bazaarvoice and Matrix Service are the only companies set to report following the closing bell.

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