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The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Mar. 16, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Housing starts probably fell to an annual rate of 1.75 million in February, says the median forecasts of economists polled by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. That's suggested by the decline in housing activity reported in a builders' survey. Starts in January rose 3.8%, to a 1.8 million pace.INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Tuesday, Mar. 16, 9:15 a.m. EST -- Industrial output was likely unchanged in February after no gain in January as well. That's indicated by the continued decline in factory jobs. Operating rates for all industries probably averaged 80.3% in February, down from January's 80.5%.BEIGE BOOK

Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2 p.m. EST -- The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a roundup of observations about regional economies, will be released in advance of the Fed's policy meeting on Mar. 30.INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Thursday, Mar. 18, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The MMS survey forecasts that the foreign trade deficit widened to $15 billion in January from $13.8 billion in December. Exports likely rose after declining for two months in a row. But imports, down a large 2.1% in January, probably rebounded sharply in February.CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Thursday, Mar. 18, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices for all goods and services probably edged up 0.1% in February, the same small increase posted in both December and January. Excluding food and energy, core prices likely advanced 0.2%, after a 0.1% rise in January.FEDERAL BUDGET

Friday, Mar. 19, 2 p.m. EST -- The U.S. Treasury will probably report a February deficit of $40 billion, about even with the $41.8 billion posted a year earlier.

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