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Wall Street to read economic tea leaves from Fed, GDP

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Wall Street on Wednesday will receive two reads on the U.S. economy, with one coming from the Commerce Department and the other from the Federal Reserve, with differing takes on which matters more.

"Don't expect any surprises, the Fed has more than telegraphed that tapering will continue and be finished in the fall," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive, investments, PNC Wealth Management, voicing the consensus view that the Fed would cut its monthly asset buys by another $10 billion to $25 billion at the end of a two-day policy gathering that started Tuesday.

Still, "there may be some indication of how they view the pace of economic growth," Dunigan added.

The Fed "could introduce new information [Wednesday], as there's a bit of uncertainty as to how they would characterize the economy. They could be more optimistic or less optimistic," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.

"The Fed statement probably will not even hint on the timing of lifting the underlying Fed funds rate; there will possibly be one dissenting vote on that, but that's not going to cause a stir," said Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at Davidson Companies, referring to Fed Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher, who has called for a hike as soon as this year.

The decision from the Federal Open Market Committee will come after Wall Street gets a view on economic expansion in the second quarter, with analysts generally expecting gross domestic product grew at a 3 percent to 3.5 percent annual rate.

The government's first view of second-quarter GDP will be released at 8:30 a.m. EST with the report including revisions for the first quarter, which last had output contracting at a 2.9 percent rate.

"Assuming we get a rebound in GDP growth in the second quarter from what we saw in the first, the debate will heat up around when we'll see rate increases, between the pace and timing in early 2015," said Dunigan.

"What could happen is you could revise the first-quarter number to be less bad, and the second-quarter number to be less good; that'll drive people nuts," said Greenhaus.

On Tuesday, stocks declined, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average under 17,000, as the United States and European Union joined in expanding sanctions against Russia, highlighting a geopolitical crisis that overrode investor enthusiasm for earnings from companies including Merck.

Read MoreStocks fall; Ukraine concerns overtake earnings cheer

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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