“Brainard could be a preview of Yellen,” said Deutsche Bank chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna. He said Dudley and the governors are the most important Fed speakers, and the batch of other Fed presidents is not as meaningful.
Brainard speaks in Cambridge, Massachusetts at 6 p.m. Wednesday’s Fed speakers include Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan, at 1 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, he told CNBC that the Fed should be in the process of removing “accommodation” in its monetary policy.
“Hopefully, we’ll see some consistency in the commentary of Brainard tomorrow, and if we see something neutral to slightly hawkish from Yellen Friday, you’ll have to lock it in. The fact you had Harker, Williams, and Dudley all basically speaking at the same time and trying to make it clear a rate hike is coming is interesting four days before the blackout begins,” said Simons.
Besides Yellen, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer speaks at midday Friday.
“Yellen could always throw cold water on it,” he said, adding Trump’s comments on spending and taxes in his speech to Congress Tuesday night could be important if they provide more detail. The Fed has been trying to assess the impact of Trump’s policies on the economy, but it has not had much hard information.
LaVorgna said he is watching the PCE deflator as well as consumer income and spending, also released at 8:30 a.m. Economists watch the core PCE, and that is expected to show a 1.8 percent year over year gain.
“The last few months, the core PCE has been on the lower side, and the issue is whether that will extend into January. I don’t think inflation is going to pick up a whole lot, despite what we’ve seen in core CPI. The market is fixated on core PCE because if you get a surprise, the probability of a Fed hike goes up even further,” said LaVorgna.
Fed presidents have been lining up to make clear that March is a “live meeting,” and an interest rate hike will be on the table. Fed watchers, however, have not embraced that time frame, with many sticking with expectations for no hike until June.
Wednesday’s data also includes important ISM manufacturing data at 10 a.m. and Markit manufacturing PMI at 9:45 a.m. There is also construction spending at 10 a.m. and the Fed’s beige book at 2 p.m. Monthly vehicle sales are also released.
Earnings are expected from Best Buy, Lowe’s, Dollar Tree, Mylan Labs, Luxottica Group, Crocs and Windstream before the opening bell. Broadcom, Planet Fitness and Shake Shack report after the closing bell.