Powell Stepping Up To Stage With Weekend China Talks Waiting in Wings

Fed Chair Jerome Powell takes center stage Wednesday when he steps to the podium at the Economic Club of New York. With other Fed speakers recently sounding a bit more dovish, the question is whether Powell might say anything that reinforces hopes for a less active central bank in 2019. 

Going into Powell’s noon ET speech, the market seems to have a more positive tone after consecutive strong finishes Monday and Tuesday. While there’s still a lot of emotion hanging over the Street ahead of Powell, optimism might be growing a little going into weekend trade talks between the U.S. and China. When it comes to market sentiment, tariffs still rule the roost. Just about every big move recently has been related to China, one way or the other, so watch for potential volatility ahead of that big weekend meeting.

From a data standpoint early Wednesday, the government left its estimate for Q3 gross domestic product (GDP) unchanged at 3.5 percent. New home sales for October also bow this morning. Tomorrow afternoon brings Fed minutes from its November meeting.

There was also some earnings news late yesterday and early today. Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) shares got crushed Wednesday in pre-market trading after the company’s same-store sales rose but missed Wall Street analysts’ estimates. This probably reflects a drop in tourism and a strong dollar more than anything, so it’s not necessarily time to panic about the high-end consumer. 

On a more positive note, shares of business software firm Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE: CRM) heated up with an 8 percent jump in pre-market trading after the company not only easily beat analysts’ estimates on earnings, but, perhaps more importantly, delivered a strong outlook.

Powell Speech Takes Center Stage

Though his speech has an academic-sounding title, “The Federal Reserve’s Framework for Monitoring

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