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Look Ahead: Fed Under Fire, GE-Comcast Deal in Focus

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is in the hot seat Thursday.

Oliver Quilla for CNBC.com

Bernanke goes before the Senate Banking committee at 10 a.m. as part of the confirmation process for his second term. Bernanke is expected to be taken to task by Congress, which has been angling to curb some of the Fed's powers.

"I think it's not so much against Bernanke personally, but there's obviously a lot of angst in the political world about some of the decisions the Fed has made in the last couple of years, and I think Bernanke is going to have his hands full defending the reputation of the Fed as an institution on a number of fronts," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at RBS.

"I think people who haven't been following this closely and tune into the hearing might be taken aback by the degree of venom being cast the Fed's way," he said.

Bernanke is expected to be confirmed, but the issues Congress could raise include questions about the powers of the regional Fed presidents, the bailout of non financial institutions, and the idea that the Fed should be audited, he said.

"To the extent that there's anything market moving, it will be more to do with what are the potential market implications of a Fed stripped of its mandate and what would the implications of that be from the broad economic and monetary implications going forward," Stanley said.

Thursday is a busy day in Washington. The White House hosts a jobs summit hosted by President Obama and attended by dozens of business leaders and others.

Thursday is also the day General Electric and Comcast are expected to announce a deal to form a joint venture for GE's NBC Universal unit. The new company would be 51 percent controlled by Comcast. CNBC is owned by NBC Universal.

Another major corporate story traders will be watching is the Bank of America news from late Wednesday that it will be repaying the $45 billion in TARP money after it completes a securities offering.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

In economic news, weekly jobless claims are released at 8:30 a.m., as are productivity and labor costs. Non manufacturing ISM is released at 10 a.m.

Another major corporate story traders will be watching is the Bank of America news from late Wednesday that it will be repaying the $45 billion in TARP money after it completes a securities offering. Tomorrow on Squawk Box, U.S. Treaury Secretary Tim Geithner will discuss the BofA deal, among other issues, at 8am Eastern.

— Questions? Comments? marketinsider@cnbc.

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