Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
U.S. equities markets were on track to open lower Monday morning, adding to the misery lingering from last week’s losses. Investors are looking ahead to finding out this week whether the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee will raise its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a point or more. Data from last week showed that inflation remained hot in August, which is likely to stiffen the Fed’s resolve in aggressively attacking price increases with more rate hikes. The Fed meeting kicks off Tuesday, and its rate announcement is slated for Wednesday.
President Joe Biden isn’t waiting for the World Health Organization to make the call. The Covid pandemic isn’t the emergency it once was. The disease is still a problem for the United States, he told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday. Indeed, hundreds are still dying from it every day. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it,” Biden said. “But the pandemic is over.” Vaccines and treatments are more widespread, employers are pushing their workers to return to offices more consistently, and kids are returning to school. The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said last week that “the end is in sight,” as weekly global deaths in early September represented the lowest point since the organization declared Covid a pandemic in March 2020.
Russian forces damaged another nuclear plant in Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian state nuclear company, but the facility is still functioning as normal. The three reactors at the Pivdennoukrainsk power plant in the nation’s southern Mykolaiv region were unharmed in the strike, which nonetheless damaged buildings there, authorities said. The development came after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces suffered a quick succession of losses, ceding territory back to the government of Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy. Intelligence suggests that Putin is relying more on volunteers and proxy forces, while the top U.S. military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, said the war “isn’t going too well” for Russia. Read live updates here.
China might have reported better-than-expected economic data last week, but don’t bet on it lasting, according to analysts. Investors aren’t so confident in the superpower’s ability to bounce back from the self-inflicted harm caused by the government’s so-called zero-Covid policy, for one. “We’re not seeing the policy-levers being pulled necessary to facilitate a change,” Mattie Bekink, China director for the Economist Intelligence Corporate Network, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” The stronger U.S. dollar isn’t helping, either, and economists expect China’s yuan to continue weakening.
Hurricane Fiona, striking on the 33rd anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, tore through Puerto Rico, leaving behind wide swaths of devastation and knocking out power to the whole island. Biden declared a state of emergency as the island’s authorities assess the disaster. “The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. Meteorologists said there is more torrential rain to come, even as the storm moves toward the Dominican Republic. It’s unclear when Puerto Rico’s power grid will be back up, conjuring memories of 2017, when Hurricane Maria knocked out power, leaving some neighborhoods without electricity for a year.
–CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel, Patti Domm, Natasha Turak and Jihye Lee contributed to this report.