January 10, 2019 9:30 a.m. Trade-Talks, Shutdown, & The Chairman -by- Lester Murray

None of the above are getting blamed for an early-morning equity sell-off; that distinction belongs to some of the nation's largest retailers after several disappointing sales and revenue reports were made public this morning. Bonds are pretty much unaffected by anything, so far, with the Ten-Year unchanged @ 2.71% with the Two-Year unchanged @ 2.54%. Unchanged is a seldom used adjective these days when discussing financial markets.

But, that doesn't mean change won't be coming. Trade-talk perceptions seem to change with whoever is doing the perceiving. Glad tidings helped propel buoyant moods yesterday, but some yet-to-be-resolved issues remain. Their ultimate resolution remains in doubt. Likewise with the partial government shutdown (PGS). As the shutdown day-count rises, so do the grumblings. And now that furloughed employees are not getting paid, pressure mounts.

Mr. Powell is also exposed to some pressure of a different sort, but he seems prepared to fade the heat. He'll be speaking to the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. at a luncheon today and his comments will be scrutinized, as always. After yesterday's release of dovish FOMC minutes, investors will be playing close attention for any signs that Mr. Powell's outlook is different than the one described by the Committee's minutes.