The lineup of producer prices and a slew of Federal Reserve speakers could have made for riveting drama Wednesday. Unfortunately, the show was anticlimactic. The Fed didn't say much to move the markets, which suffered minor losses save for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite.

Thursday brings consumer price inflation data and a Capitol Hill appearance by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, but the ending may be only slightly more satisfying. Bernanke is unlikely to take the politicized bait in his testimony to the now Democratic-led Senate Budget Committee. Economists expect that core consumer prices rose 0.2% in December.

The stock market is focused on earnings season, and hawkish talk from the Fed holds little shock value anymore. Both stock and bond investors have made quick business of accepting that rate cuts are not on the table until later in 2007, if at all.

Rate cut odds abated further Wednesday, spurred by stronger-than-expected reports of industrial production and capacity utilization, a benign beige book, and a report of improved confidence among U.S. homebuilders. The fed funds futures market is now no longer priced for even one 25-basis-point rate cut in 2007, according to Miller Tabak. If a cut is to happen at all, the fed funds futures market puts it in September at the earliest.

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