Fed speak may trump a bundle of big earnings reports and important housing and industrial production data Wednesday, all of which guarantees another volatile trading day. Traders are also focused on Ukraine, as Kiev attempts to move against pro-Russian militants, and headlines from there ruffled markets Tuesday. U.S. industrial output and retail sales, set for release early Wednesday, could also have a lingering impact on markets. Earlier Wednesday, China reported better-than-expected first quarter gross domestic product numbers, with economists forecasting a growth pickup over the coming months. There are a number of Fed speakers Wednesday, but the most important by far is Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who speaks to the Economics Club of New York at 12:25 p.m. ET. Yellen will also answer questions from economists. “She’s clearly taken a beating in the press. She’s going to try not to say anything,” said Ian Lyngen, senior Treasury strategist at CRT Capital.
Lyngen was referring to a comment Yellen made at her first press briefing after the Fed’s March 19 meeting. She said that the Fed could begin to hike short term rates about six months after it ends its bond buying program. That sent a ripple through markets, as traders repriced for higher rates sooner than they had expected in 2015. The Fed has emphasized since then – even in the minutes from the March meeting – that it intends to keep rates low for longer. Yields have fallen across the curve since those minutes were released last week. Besides Yellen, the Fed’s beige book on the economy could be important when it is released at 2 p.m. ET. There are also housing starts at 8:30 a.m. ET and industrial production at 9:15 a.m. Fed speakers include Fed Gov. Jerome Stein, who speaks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Conference on financial stability and monetary policy at 8:30 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart also makes comments at the Fed conference at 11:30 a.m., and separately, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher speaks on the regional economic outlook in Austin, Texas at 1:25 p.m. More