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Will Fed's Yellen Settle the March Rate Hike Debate?

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Fillon's campaign, stocks, and the pound are all faltering as traders await Yellen's big speech. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Federal Reserve

Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer top off a week in which Fed speak-turned-Fed cacophony by delivering speeches in Chicago and New York later today. With expectations of a March interest-rate increase now overwhelming, Treasury futures markets were subdued and the dollar held steady. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Fischer will speak at 12:30 Eastern Time, with his boss due half an hour later. 

Stocks swoon

Snap Inc. up, everything else down. That was the flavor of Thursday's equity markets, and today most gauges worldwide are following the U.S. in paring this week's strong gains. South Korea's Kospi fell the most since November, on reports of an impending drought of Chinese tourists, while the Stoxx Europe 600 Index had dropped 0.5 percent by 5:05 a.m. in New York. S&P 500 futures were down 0.3 percent. 

Inflation beats

The Bank of Japan’s preferred measure of consumer prices has risen for the first time since December 2015 — albeit ever so slightly. Whether that print budges policy will become clearer after the bank's March 16 meeting. This morning's data also show inflation picking up where it's not welcome: Turkey's CPI gauge rose at its fastest pace in nearly five years, sending yields spiking higher.

U.K. misses

Manufacturing and services-sector data that fell short of analysts' expectations may be pointing to the long-awaited, much-contested Brexit slowdown. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond readies his budget, Markit’s combined surveys imply economic growth of 0.4 percent this quarter. That would be the slowest pace in a year, and is helping to extend the pound's losing streak into a sixth day. Across the channel, the resignation of a campaign aide is deepening French Presidential candidate Francois Fillon's woes

Coming up....

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will present next year's economic targets at the opening of the National People’s Congress on Sunday. Also on Sunday, the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading hosts its annual conference for airline manufacturers, lessors, and airlines.

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