Powell speaks, inflation gauge, Cisco earnings: 3 things to watch for in the markets on Wednesday

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference on October 30, 2019 in Washington, DC.
ERIC BARADAT | AFP | Getty Images

Here are the most important things to know about Wednesday before you hit the door.

1. Fed's Powell testifies

After a speech from President Donald Trump on Tuesday, eyes are shifting to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who will speak to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday about the current economic outlook.

Following the Fed's third interest rate cut of the year on Oct. 30, Powell signaled that the Fed's moves to ease policy could be nearing a pause. Powell said central bank officials "see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate." Investors will be looking for additive details on the central bank's current impression of the health of the economy.

2. Inflation gauge

A key indicator of inflation trends, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. Economist polled by Dow Jones are estimating U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3% in October, and at 1.7% annual rate. This reading is still below the Fed's 2% inflation target. If inflation comes in any hotter than the estimates it could raise concerns about whether the Fed's current monetary policy is too easy.

Economists are forecasting that core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.2% in October, after a jump of 0.1% in September. This monthly estimate would be a 2.4% increase since October of last year.

3. Trade war to weigh on Cisco earnings?

Dow component Cisco Systems will report fiscal first-quarter earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Cowen is expecting the networking hardware giant to report earnings of 83 cents per share, higher than the 75 cents per share earned in the fiscal first quarter last year, and higher than Cisco's forecast of a range between 80 and 82 cents per share. Cowen estimates revenue of $13.1 billion, topping last year's $13.07 billion in the same period.

Last quarter, Cisco's revenue in China fell 25%. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said the company saw "significant impact" on business in China because of the U.S.-China trade war. Cowen is not worried about these challenges for Cisco as they have been "readily observable and are fairly well known," the firm's Paul Silverstein said in a note to clients.

Shares of Cisco are down more than 6% in the last three months, lagging the broader market.

Major events (all times ET):

8:30 a.m. CPI

8:30 a.m. Core CPI

11:00 a.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks before Joint Economic Committee

12:30 p.m. Richmond Fed's Barkin

1:30 p.m. Minneapolis Fed's Kashkari

2:00 p.m. Federal budget

5:00 p.m. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker

Major earnings:

Tencent (before the bell)

Luckin Coffee (before the bell)

Beazer Homes (after the bell)

Copa Holdings (after the bell)

Change Healthcare (after the bell)

Tetra Tech (after the bell)

Cisco Systems (after the bell)

— with reporting from CNBC's Michael Bloom.