Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Dow futures drop as history signals a rough rest of September
- Options, futures expirations could add volatility at Friday's close
- Fed chief calls for a review of the central bank's investment rules
- FDA vaccine advisory panel to meet on Pfizer Covid boosters
- Biden to hold climate meeting in advance of U.N. summit
U.S. stock futures fell Friday, marking a key date, Sept. 17, that has historically ushered in a rough patch for the market in an already traditionally tough month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined Thursday, though it ended way above session lows. The S&P 500 dipped as well, while the Nasdaq bucked the trend and rose slightly. Despite the September angst, all three benchmarks were tracking for weekly gains. Ahead of Friday's open, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq weren't too far from their recent record closes — about 2.5%, 1.4%, and 1.3% away respectively.
Coinciding with seasonal factors stacked against Wall Street, it's also "quadruple witching" Friday, the simultaneous expiration of stock options, index options, stock futures and index futures. The Federal Reserve holds its two-day September policy meeting next week, leaving investors already on edge this month to read the tea leaves on when central bankers might start tapering their massive Covid-era bond buying. As of Thursday's close, the Dow was down 1.7% this month, while the S&P 500 was off 1.1% and the Nasdaq was down 0.5%. However, all three were still way up for the year.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has called for a review of the central bank's ethics rules for appropriate financial activities after disclosures that several senior Fed officials held significant investments and others made multimillion-dollar stock trades in 2020. Last year was when monetary policymakers were implementing extraordinary measures to support the crumbling economy during the pandemic. News of the Powell inquiry followed letters sent by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to the Fed's regional bank presidents demanding stricter ethics.
A key part of President Joe Biden's plan to combat Covid could be in jeopardy as an FDA vaccine advisory committee meets Friday to debate and vote on Pfizer's application to offer vaccine booster shots to the general public. The meeting comes as some scientists, including at least two at the FDA, said they aren't entirely convinced that every American who has received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine needs a third at this time. Friday's vote could halt the Biden administration's already announced plan to start distributing boosters next week.
Biden convenes world leaders Friday for a discussion about efforts to tackle climate change, seeking to build momentum ahead of an international summit on global warming later this year. Biden has been repeatedly emphasizing climate change, a top domestic and global priority, in recent weeks following devastating floods and wildfires in the U.S. Biden is trying to make the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, a success.