"Too much of this is noise," said Zachary Karabell, head of global strategy at Envestnet. "They've been pretty clear about the arc. We're a little uncertain about the timing. The global cost of money is clearly low, and there's no indication that's on the verge of a change."
Indeed, the Fed has made it clear that whenever the first hike comes, there's little cause to believe policymakers will be in a hurry to raise again. The backdrop for rate hikes, after all, is a difficult one — four consecutive declining quarters for corporate profits, and an economy that may not have grown at all in the first quarter.
Yellen and her cohorts also continue to show that if they are truly data dependent, a good deal of that data comes from financial markets. Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research called Yellen the market's "fairy godmother" while New York Fed President William Dudley echoed Yellen's sentiments that hikes will have to be gradual.
"We're conducting policy on the basis of imperfect information but that's the information that we have at the time," Dudley said Friday in a speech. "So it's like you're driving on the road in a storm. You're looking out the windshield, you don't have a perfect view but you have a view and that's the basis for the decisions you make at the time."
One thing the market looks sure of is that there's virtually no chance of a hike when the Federal Open Market Committee meets April 26-27. Traders are assigning just a 3 percent chance of a move.