Some fresh light could soon be shed on the market's biggest mystery.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before the U.S. Senate and House, respectively. Investors will likely be listening with keen ears, hoping for a hint about when the Fed will finally hike interest rates from their crisis-era lows.
In the minutes from their January meeting released on Wednesday, Fed policymakers appeared a bit less eager to hike rates than investors had anticipated.
In somewhat opaque language, the central bank's policy committee said that "many participants indicated that their assessment of the balance of risks associated with the timing of the beginning of policy normalization had inclined them toward keeping the federal funds rate at its effective lower bound for a longer time."
The perceived dovishness calmed fears of a June rate hike, leading short-term yields to fall sharply on the week. Currently, federal funds futures contracts are pricing in just a 15 percent chance of a rate hike by June, according to CME Group's Fed Watch tool.
However, that meeting occurred nearly a month ago, which before the release of January employment report that bested expectations. In a separate but related note, Wal-Mart announced that it was increasing its minimum pay to $9 an hour by April, and $10 by February 2016.
That may indicate that the growing labor market is finally creating a bit of wage inflation, a sorely missing part of the recovery equation that could reduce concerns that inflation will drop on the back of a rate hike.
On the other hand, recent economic data points like the Empire State Manufacturing and the Philadelphia Fed surveys have disappointed, indicating that growth could be moderating a bit. Meanwhile, worries about the global economic situation have not gone away.