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Fed speakers could give stocks another jolt

August retail sales could answer a lot of questions for markets — but more important will be a flurry of Fed speakers.

At the top of the list is Fed Gov. Lael Brainard, who speaks in Chicago Monday. After the hawkish comments of Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren Friday, traders are watching to see if she will stay firmly in the dovish camp, and as for Thursday's retail sales, it is the most important data the Fed will see before it meets on Sept. 20.

Many economists have been expecting the Fed will stay on the sidelines at its September meeting, and December is viewed as more likely for the Fed's second rate hike in 10 years.

Brainard is "someone inside the Yellen circle who tends to want to wait. It will be interesting to see how cautious she is," said Diane Swonk, CEO of DS Economics.

Stocks sold off sharply and bond yields snapped higher Friday, after Rosengren's comments. But Swonk said the market ignored a second Fed speaker, Fed. Gov. Daniel Tarullo, who appeared on CNBC Friday.

"What Rosengren said is nothing new. Rosengren wanted a September rate hike," said Swonk. "We've heard from Dan Tarullo in the inner circle and he's consistent with the view to be more dovish. He's not opposed to a rate hike this year but he would be for December. (The markets) allowed Rosengren to trump Tarullo, and Brainard has an even greater sway in Yellen's inner circle."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen and two other Fed officials viewed as being close to the chair — New York Fed President William Dudley and Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer — all pushed the idea during the week of their Jackson Hole conference that the Fed was close to hiking rates, possibly even in September.

But that was...


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