Expand chart
Data: CME Group; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

If Powell cuts U.S. overnight interest rates today, not only will he be fighting hawkish members of his rate-setting committee, but the supposedly data-dependent Fed will be fighting the data as well.

What's happening: Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East are rising and economic readings from China and the eurozone have continued to deteriorate since the Fed's last meeting — but U.S. data has been strong and even potentially inflationary.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rebounded in September after hitting a 3-year low in August.
  • U.S. retail sales rose 0.4% in August, doubling estimates from economists, after a strong 0.8% rise in July.
  • The core consumer price index, a measure of inflation excluding volatile food and energy items, rose 2.4% year over year, the biggest jump in more than a decade, according to St. Louis Fed data.
  • August's U.S. jobs report missed expectations for employment gains, but average hourly earnings increased by 0.4% for the month and 3.2% from a year earlier, both near their highest marks in a decade.

Now what? While most analysts and money managers say they still expect a rate cut, Fed fund futures prices show the market is growing less certain.

  • Traders went from seeing a 0% chance the Fed will hold rates steady at today's meeting a month ago to a near 50-50 shot on Tuesday.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.