Fed decision, Lululemon earnings, inflation gauge: 3 things to watch for Wednesday

Yoga class at the Lululemon Yoga tent at In goop Health Vancouver at Stanley Park on October 27, 2018 in Vancouver, Canada.
Ernesto Distefano | Getty Images

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

1. Fed meeting and rate decision

The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday and after will announce its decision on interest rates. Markets widely expect the central bank to hold interest rates steady at the conclusion of the meeting after cutting rates for three straight times this year. A CNBC survey released Tuesday said it expects Federal Reserve policymakers will go into hibernation for as much as six months, keeping rates unchanged until at least the summer.

Friday's blowout jobs report makes it less likely the central bank will move to cut interest rates as the Fed's dual mandate when assessing monetary policy is maximizing employment and stabilizing prices.

"The risks to the outlook for economic growth and inflation are still tilted to the downside, and the door to future rate cuts remains open," Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial market economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in response to the survey.

Investors will still be watching Fed Chair Jerome Powell's press conference for commentary on economic growth, the trade war and the repo market cash crunch.

2. Lululemon earnings

Athletic apparel company Lululemon reports third quarter earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Cowen is forecasting earnings per share of 95 cents, compared to the 75 cents earned in the same quarter last year. The firm estimates revenue comes in at $3.926 billion, topping $3.288 billion in the same period a year ago. Cowen sees same-store sales coming in at 15.2%.

Last week, Cowen said Lululemon's business is starting to resemble athletic apparel giant Nike's business. The firm said Nike's valuation provides a map for Lululemon's future, and that when applying Nike's multiple to Lululemon's financial metrics and growth opportunities, there's a path to a $40 billion market valuation.

Shares of Lululemon are up more than 18% in the last three months, while the S&P 500 is up only 5%.

3. 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 0.2% in November, and at 2% annual rate. This reading is in line with 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 November, after a jump of 0.2% in October. This monthly estimate would be a 2.3% increase from November of last year.

Major events (all times ET):

8:30 a.m. CPI

10:00 a.m. QSS

2:00 p.m. Federal budget

2:00 p.m. FOMC statement

2:30 p.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell briefs media

Major earnings:

American Eagle Outfitters (before the bell)

Lululemon (after the bell)

— with reporting from CNBC's Michael Bloom.