Data dependent—The Fed is expected to downgrade its 2015 GDP forecast of 2.3 to 2.7 percent due to first-quarter weakness. But at the same time, it's expected to talk up improvements in the economy more recently. It is also likely to re-emphasize that its decision to hike rates will be data dependent and that it needs to see continued progress in the economy and strength in labor.
Peter Boockvar of The Lindsey Group said if the Fed just emphasizes it is data dependent with no clues on timing for its first rate increase, it would be "more of the same old."
"What they should do and will do are two different things. it's just a question of whether they lay the groundwork for July or September. They're going to have to acknowledge the data between now and April. They're running out of meetings to prep us. I think we're getting close to an inflection point. If the Fed doesn't raise rates soon, the market will do it for them." Boockvar said.
He also said the central bank needs to acknowledge the increase in wage growth and inflation, present in last month's CPI but not in the PCE data that the Fed watches.
"At the March meeting, they had a 1.6 percent core CPI. Today core CPI is 1.8," he said. Fresh CPI data for May will be released Thursday.
So any comment on inflation will be significant. "I think that's the Fed's trigger now. That's what they're looking at as far as how they're going to time their normalization of rates. That's the one aspect of the economy that's keeping them from the liftoff hike. If we get a trend higher in inflation, that would be an indicator that they are going to be more comfortable with liftoff," said Ian Lyngen, senior Treasury strategist at CRT Capital.
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Balance sheet—There is some market talk that Fed Chair Janet Yellen could address the Fed's $4.5 trillion balance sheet during her 2:30 p.m. ET briefing Wednesday. The balance sheet ballooned with the extraordinary programs like quantitative easing that it launched to battle the financial crisis.
The balance sheet is viewed by the central bank as a monetary tool that can be used to control long-term rates, so it was not expected to discuss its plans for the balance sheet until next year, after it began raising short-term rates.
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Economists don't expect the Fed to talk about the balance sheet yet, but some strategists have speculated that the Fed may be asked to comment on its plans.