Powell appeared to make the case for a cut in remarks to Congress on Wednesday. In his semi-annual testimony, he cited anxiety around unresolved trade tensions and worries over the weakness of the global outlook, while noting that inflation continues to run below the Fed's target.
A strong jobs report for June hasn't changed the outlook, he added.
"Since the June [Fed] meeting and for a period before that, the data have continued to disappoint," he said.
Investors read that as a sure sign that the Fed will ease interest rates at its July meeting, though questions remain on the magnitude of a potential move. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 all hit intraday highs on Wednesday.
Powell's testimony continues Thursday in front of the Senate Banking Committee starting at 10 a.m. ET.
Also on the calendar: the European Central Bank will publish the minutes of its June meeting at 7:30 a.m. ET.
2. France's tech tax: French lawmakers could approve a bill on Thursday that would impose a new tax on large tech groups and risk a costly backlash from the Trump administration at a tense moment for global trade.
The United States Trade Representative announced a so-called Section 301 investigation on Wednesday, warning that the proposed tax could discriminate against American companies.
The move means the United States could end up imposing retaliatory tariffs on French products.
"The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
The measure would impose a 3% tax on revenue earned by large internet companies in France. It would apply to businesses with global revenue of more than €750 million ($845 million) and €25 million ($28 million) in France.
The investigation launched by the Trump administration is the same type that served as the basis for US tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. That inquiry lasted seven months before President Donald Trump decided to move ahead with the first round of tariffs.
The Dow is set to rise 46 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 is also tracking up 0.2%, while the Nasdaq could jump 0.3% one day after it hit a new closing record. The S&P 500 crossed 3,000 points for the first time ever on Wednesday, but finished just short of a fresh high.
US oil futures have surged above $60 a barrel on concerns that Tropical Storm Barry could derail crude production in the Gulf of Mexico. Claims from US officials that five armed Iranian boats had unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf sent prices even higher, with Brent crude, the international benchmark rising 0.5%.
4. Coming this week:
Thursday US inflation rate; China balance of trade; Delta (DAL) earnings; Powell testifies in the Senate
Friday US producer prices