Wall Street opened lower on Monday as oil prices dropped the most in four weeks and investors weighed the prospects of an interest rate hike in the coming months.
Oil prices fell nearly 3 percent as China ramped up exports of refined products, U.S. producers added rigs for an eighth consecutive week, and prospects emerged for increased exports from Iraq and Nigeria. [O/R]
With the earnings season coming to an end, investor focus will shift to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday at the annual central bankers’ meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“The markets will start to get a little bit nervous about what’s going to be said, what kind of indications will be given about a September hike,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.
The case for an imminent rate hike was strengthened by Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer’s comments that the U.S. economy was close to hitting job and inflation targets.
New York Fed president and permanent voting member William Dudley said last week that a hike as soon as next month was possible.