The Week Ahead

NEW RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 8:30 a.m. EST -- February housing starts most likely fell to an annual rate of 1.75 million. That's based on the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International.

FOMC MEETING

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 9 a.m. EST -- The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will meet to set monetary policy. Economists surveyed by MMS International expect interest rates to stay at 1.25%. Recent economic data may cause the Fed to change its stance toward conditions of economic weakness.

LEADING INDICATORS

Thursday, Mar. 20, 10 a.m. EST -- The Conference Board's February index of leading indicators probably fell 0.2%, after a 0.1% decline in December.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Thursday, Mar. 20, 2 p.m. EST -- The federal government is expected to report an $87.5 billion deficit for February, worse than the $76.1 billion gap posted the same period last year. The January surplus stood at $11.1 billion.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Friday, Mar. 21, 8:30 a.m. EST -- February consumer prices for goods and services very likely increased by 0.5% because of higher energy costs. Excluding food and energy, the core index probably rose by 0.2%.

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