Waiting for Yellen Q&A, but QE helping elsewhere

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The major powers seem to be giving positive signals to the Greek package of economic reforms submitted last night. Greek bond yields are down for a fifth consecutive day, and the Greek stock market is up 8 percent to its highest level since early December.

With Janet Yellen testifying in the Senate at 10 a.m. EDT, the market is obsessed with gauging her intent on raising rates this year. My own feeling is Yellen will do very little to show her hand, and will instead reiterate that the Fed remains "data dependent."

All indications are that Yellen learned her lesson about making future predictions with the now-famous "six months" comment she made during her first press conference in March of last year, when she said the Fed would start raising short-term rates about six months after they end their stimulus program.

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More than likely any fireworks will come from Chairman Richard Shelby's well-known dislike of the Fed, quantitative easing, and even Yellen herself (he voted against her), as well as those supporting the current version of the "audit the Fed" bill.

Speaking of QE, it certainly seems to be helping the stock markets of those countries where central banks are employing it.

World Stock Markets YTD:

  • France: up 13.6 percent
  • Germany: up 13.4 percent
  • Nikkei: up 6.7 percent
  • FTSE: up 5.5 percent
  • S&P 500: up 2.6 percent

Probably not a coincidence that both the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are engaged in QE programs, while the U.S. has wound down its program.