5 Things to Know

5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

1. Futures rise as Fed announces new inflation approach

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is reflected in the sneeze guard set up between himself and members of the House Committee on Financial Services hearing on Oversight of the Treasury Department and Fed Reserve Pandemic response on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Bill O'Leary-Pool | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures were pointing to gains at Thursday's open after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced a major policy shift to "average inflation targeting," which could keep interest rates lower for longer. The central bank chief addressed the Kansas City Fed's annual symposium, held virtually this year instead of at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, against the backdrop of extraordinary monetary policy measures designed to combat the negative economic effects of the coronavirus. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to new highs on Wednesday.

The Labor Department on Thursday morning issued its weekly look at jobless claims. Just over 1 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week after more than 1.1 million new claims the prior week. The Commerce Department reported a slight improvement in its second look at second-quarter gross domestic product: An economic contraction of 31.7%

2. Monster Category 4 Hurricane Laura hits Gulf Coast

Source: NOAA

Hurricane Laura pounded the Gulf Coast for hours with ferocious wind and torrential rain as it roared ashore as a monster Category 4 storm over southwestern Louisiana near the Texas line early Thursday. The region is home to about half of America's oil refineries. U.S. gasoline futures were actually down 2% on Thursday morning while West Texas Intermediate crude prices were flat. Laura made landfall as a more powerful storm than devastating Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the Gulf Coast 15 years ago Saturday.

3. GOP works on a narrow coronavirus stimulus bill

EMS medics with the Houston Fire Department move a patient with Covid-19 symptoms onto a stretcher before transporting him to a hospital on August 14, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
John Moore | Getty Images

Republicans are working on a more narrow coronavirus stimulus bill that they could release this week, two senior Trump administration officials and three people briefed on the matter told CNBC. The GOP is mulling a roughly $500 billion proposal that addresses only areas of bipartisan support, including expanded unemployment insurance, but not another direct payment to Americans.

Abbott Laboratories said late Wednesday it has received U.S. authorization for a portable Covid-19 test that can deliver results within 15 minutes and costs $5. Abbott expects to ship tens of millions of these tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month shortly thereafter. Shares of Abbott jumped 9.5% in Thursday's premarket trading on the announcement.

4. Trump to make his case for four more years

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24, 2020.
David T. Foster | Pool | Reuters

One day after Vice President Mike Pence's measured speech, President Donald Trump accepts the GOP nomination on the final night of the Republican National Convention. The president's address Thursday night comes as the nation endures a pandemic, a battered economy, a racial reckoning and a massive hurricane.

Following Trump's push for China-based ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok interests, the CEO of the wildly popular video app has stepped down. Kevin Mayer, who was previously Disney's head of streaming, joined TikTok as chief executive just two months ago. He cited the changing political environment for this decision.

5. Teams protesting racial injustice refuse to play games

An empty court and bench is shown before the start of a scheduled game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic for Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks' refusal to play their playoff game Wednesday night to protest racial injustice after Sunday's police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin sent a ripple effect across sports leagues. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the WNBA also saw cancellations.

NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours Wednesday night to determine next steps, including whether the season should continue. Many players wrestled for weeks about whether it was even right to play, fearing that a return to games would take attention away from the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.