Trading has remained staid late in the day on Wall Street, with the Dow bound in a tight trading range of just 65 points all day. With just under half an hour to the close in New York, the Dow was down 8 points or 0.05% at 15,786, while the S&P 500 index had nosed its way into positive territory, up 0.07% or 1.2 points at 1798.2.
The restrained pattern of trading in the stock market is not surprising given the dearth of macroeconomic news out in the US today. Things will be slightly busier tomorrow in this regard, with wholesale inventories for December and the monthly job openings report from the US Labor Department, but the attention of the market is likely to be largely focused on what Janet Yellen has to say to the House of Representatives tomorrow, in her first official remarks on the economy since assuming Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve.
With the latest jobs data anything but reassuring, she will likely have little choice but to admit to continuing fragility in the economy, but it would be surprising for Ms Yellen to indicate any departure from the expected plan which, in the words of the last FOMC statement, is that the Fed ‘will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.’ Inflation is another area of the economy that is not ideal, sticking stubbornly well below the Fed’s 2% target rate, and I will be particularly interested in hearing how concerned Ms Yellen is over the inflation outlook.