In a time of increasing geopolitical tensions, investors tend to disregard the macro data and focus on the tension until they feel more comfortable about the expected outcome. Until there is more clarity, investors want to know: Who is in charge? Will international oil firms close down operations and withdraw staff in order to protect their investments? Will continued insurgency draw the U.S. back into Iraq? All of these questions will cause investors to remain cautious and patient. So as the drama plays out, don't expect to see investors change their mentality until they have more clarity.
In addition, Wednesday's Federal Reserve statement will incorporate not only the most recent U.S. macro data points, it will also include the acknowledgement by the Bank of England that they may be the first central bank to raise rates.
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This will be a test for Janet Yellen: How will she spin it? Can she keep the markets sufficiently calm in a time of international turmoil and economic malaise?
I do believe that Yellen will pull it off — I do not expect that she will say anything that the market (investors) do not already expect. And although Bank of England Governor Mark Carney did suggest that the BoE may be the first to raise rates sooner than expected, I think he was testing the water, testing investor commitment — much like Yellen and the Fed have done numerous times. Remember: They float the idea, they watch for market reaction and then revisit if investors begin to panic. That being said, I would not be surprised to see the market turn temporarily weaker on her comments.
Weaker does not mean panic.
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