Wall Street futures down ahead of Powell's speech on monetary policy

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures dipped on Thursday as tensions between Washington and Beijing dampened the mood ahead of an address by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, in which he is expected to take a softer stance on inflation to support a fragile economy.

Powell is likely to make a case for low interest rates and higher inflation in an overhaul of the central bank’s policy approach in his remarks at the Jackson Hole symposium, being held virtually this year.

Before his address at 9:10 a.m. EDT (1310 GMT), investors will get a look at the weekly jobless claims report, the most timely U.S. economic indicator, which is expected to have dipped to 1 million for the week ended Aug. 22.

Recent data suggests a wobbly recovery from one of the worst recessions for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.

Still, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have risen for the past five session to new highs, largely driven by investors pouring into heavyweight technology-related stocks.

Trading on Thursday was weighed down by U.S. sanctions on China over military action in the disputed South China Sea.

At 6:16 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis <1YMcv1> were down 84 points, or 0.3%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.22% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 27.25 points, or 0.23%.

Among early movers, NetApp Inc (O:NTAP) jumped 10.2% in premarket trading after it posted better-than-expected quarterly results, powered by demand for its cloud services. Abbott Laboratories (N:ABT) gained 9.2% after the medical device maker won U.S. marketing authorization for a $5 rapid COVID-19 portable antigen test.

Quarterly reports from retailers Abercrombie & Fitch Co (N:ANF), Dollar Tree Inc (O:DLTR), Dollar General Corp (N:DG) and cosmetic maker Coty Inc (N:COTY) were also due premarket.