Besides watching the DOW hit another milestone last week, there was quite a bit of economic data to sift through.
Small business optimism improved in February as businesses expect to invest in new equipment and inventory. Retail sales posted its biggest gain in five months, up more than 1 percent, as consumers bought cars and paid more for gas. New claims for jobless benefits fell by 10,000 to 332,000 highlighting a slow, yet recovering, labor market.
In the week ahead we expect data on interest rates and housing. The federal reserve will meet to discuss the economy and interest rates. During their January meeting the fed left its key interest rate, which affects mortgage, credit card and student loan rates, unchanged and vowed to keep rates low until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent.
We expect several reports on housing, starting with the February housing starts report. In January new construction fell by 8.5 percent, driven by a decline in multi-family homes. However, building permits, a gauge of future building activity, rose 1.8 percent. We’ll also get the February existing home sales report, which looks at previously owned homes. In January resales increased modestly, and the median sales price jumped 12.3 percent from a year ago to $173,600.