Federal Reserve officials want investors to believe that every meeting is a live one, with the possibility always there that the central bank will hike interest rates in response to financial conditions.
The market, though, is unconvinced, particularly as it concerns the March meeting, which in some sense could be the Fed's most important of the year.
Chatter lately from Federal Open Market Committee members is that March is on the table for the first hike since December.
In congressional testimony last week, Chair Janet Yellen dropped a hawkish hint, saying it would be "unwise" to wait too long to hike. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, an FOMC voter, late last week told Market News International that he would not rule out a rate increase. And nonvoter Loretta Mester of Cleveland continued her pro-hike rhetoric, saying she believes an increase would be appropriate if the economy stays on track.
All of the tightening Fedspeak, though, did little to move the markets.
Fed funds futures trading points to a less than 1 in 5 chance of a March move, only a little more than where the probability sat before Yellen's speech, according to the CME's tracking tool. The market still believes the next most likely hike is June, with the next best chance in November or December. Traders estimate about a 43 percent of three increases this year.
Investors on Wednesday will get a clearer peek inside the minds of U.S. central bankers when the Federal Open Market Committee releases the minutes of its Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting.
The March meeting is so important because if the Fed should approve a hike, it would set the tone for the year, sending a pretty unambiguous signal that monetary policy will be tighter than what the market anticipates.
Amid sharply higher business and consumer sentiment, a new president looking to spend big on public works projects and a market that continues to breach new highs, the fallout could be significant.