OUTLOOK FOR ECONOMY
— Investors: The Dow Jones industrial average has sunk nearly 5 percent this year in part because sectors of the economy like manufacturing have shown signs of weakening. Investors worry that 2014 may not be the breakout year for the economy that many had foreseen. They hope Yellen will signal that she expects a more robust economy in 2014 after 4½ sluggish years of recovery from the Great Recession.
— Yellen: She won't likely disappoint. It's the nature of Fed leaders to err on the side of optimism. A downbeat message could derail confidence and potentially send markets tumbling. Yellen will probably refer to what the Fed said in a policy statement last month: Encouraging trends in consumer spending and business investment suggest that growth was picking up — at least before 2014 began. Yellen will surely be asked about the January jobs report, which showed lackluster hiring for a second straight month. She may stress the solid hiring in sectors like manufacturing and construction.
— Investors: Investors have yanked money from emerging economies from Turkey to Argentina. They've done so in part because they fear that a pullback in the Fed's stimulus will send U.S. interest rates up and draw investor money from overseas in search of higher returns. Currency and stock values in emerging markets have dropped. The Fed made no mention of this development in its most recent policy statement, leaving investors unsure how concerned Yellen and the Fed might be.
— Yellen: She may point out that some developing nations have moved to support their currencies by boosting rates and pursuing economic reforms. She may also note a sometimes-forgotten fact: That the Fed's mandate is to maximize employment and keep prices stable in the United States, not the rest of the world. But Yellen will likely assure investors that the Fed is monitoring emerging markets for any signs that turbulence there might be harming the U.S. economy.