Jerome Powell, Hurricane Laura, TikTok, Abbott - 5 Things You Must Know Thursday

Investors await a highly anticipated speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell; Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana as Category 4 storm; TikTok CEO resigns.
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Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Aug. 27:

1. -- Stock Futures Slip Ahead of Speech From Fed's Powell

Stock futures suggested Wall Street would open modestly lower Thursday as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is expected to discuss inflation and further economic stimulus from Congress.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 75 points, S&P 500 futures declined 7 points and Nasdaq futures were down 25 points. Stocks got a boost from tech shares Wednesday, leading the S&P 500 to its fourth consecutive record close and the Nasdaq to an all-time high.

Powell will address the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole symposium, virtually this year, at 9:10 a.m. ET and is expected to discuss the Fed's long-awaited monetary policy framework review.

Tom Graff wrote on Real Money that one thing will be clear in Powell's speech: The Fed wants average inflation to be higher in future years than it has been in the recent past.

Fed-watchers anticipate the central to adopt a more flexible policy that would allow inflation to rise above its 2% annual target even while it keeps interest rates near zero.

Jackson Hole Preview: Everything You Need to Know Before Powell's Big Speech

2. -- Hurricane Laura Makes Landfall in Louisiana as Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwestern Louisiana as a Category 4 storm early Thursday, packing winds of 150 mph and a wall of ocean water that was predicted could be 20 feet high.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm came ashore at 2 a.m. ET near Cameron, a town about 30 miles east of the Texas border.

Storm surges from the storm could be "unsurvivable," the center said. Laura is the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. so far in 2020.

The storm has weakened to a Category 2 but still has winds of 110 mph.

Hurricane Laura has forced the closure of 80% of Gulf oil production and a third of the region’s refining capacity. 

The destruction to refineries could cost $5 billion, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, told Bloomberg. The storm could cause as much as $25 billion in damage and economic losses, he said.

Oil prices remained steady early Thursday, falling 0.3% to $43.26 a barrel.

Jim Cramer’s Outlook on Oil Ahead of Hurricane Laura

3. -- TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Resigns

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigned following pressure from the Trump administration that its Chinese owner sell the popular video app.

Mayer told employees in a memo that he was leaving TikTok just months after being named CEO because the "political environment has sharply changed." Mayer left Walt Disney to join TikTok in May.

“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said in the memo. “I understand that the role that I signed up for - including running TikTok globally - will look very different as a result of the U.S. administration’s action to push for a sell off of the U.S. business.”

The Trump administration issued an order that would ban TikTok unless its parent company, China's ByteDance, sold the app's U.S. operations to an American company within 90 days. The Trump administration cited TikTok's alleged threat to national security.

Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report confirmed it has been holding talks to buy TikTok's U.S. operations. Oracle  (ORCL) - Get Report also has been considering a bid, according to reports.

4. -- Abbott's $5 Rapid Covid Test Gets FDA Emergency Use Approval

Abbott Laboratories'  (ABT) - Get Report $5 rapid-response Covid-19 antigen test has received emergency authorization for use in the U.S. from the Food and Drug Administration.

Results from the test, which uses a nasal swab and a small reactive card, can be returned in about 15 minutes.

The new test “can be used at a massive scale to help overcome the current waiting game for test results,” John Hackett, divisional vice president of applied research and technology at Abbott Diagnostics, told The Wall Street Journal.

Abbott said it will begin shipping the test, called the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, in September, and the company plans to make 50 million tests a month by October. 

Abbott rose 7.99% to $111.43 in premarket trading Thursday.

5. -- GDP, Jobless Claims, Gap Earnings on Thursday's Calendar

In addition to Powell's speech at Jackson Hole, the economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes the second estimate for second-quarter Gross Domestic Product at 8:30 a.m. ET and weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.

Earnings reports are expected Thursday from Dollar General  (DG) - Get Report, Dollar Tree  (DLTR) - Get Report, Gap  (GPS) - Get Report, VMware  (VMW) - Get Report and Dell Technologies  (DELL) - Get Report