Last week investors saw the DOW reach a new all time high. There was also quite a bit of economic data. 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 improves.
Housing starts rose eight tenths of one percent in February, while building permits, a gauge of future building activity, rose 4.6 percent, to its highest level since 2008. New claims for jobless benefits increased by 2,000 to 360,000, signaling a stronger labor market. In the week ahead, we expect data on GDP, housing and income.
We’ll gain insight on the economy with the final estimate of fourth quarter GDP, which looks at all the goods and services produced from October through December. The second estimate showed the economy grew by .1 percent, the slowest pace of growth since early 2011.
We’ll get a read on housing with the January Case-Shiller Home Price Index report, which tracks price changes in twenty metro areas. In December home prices rose nearly 1 percent, helping to make 2012 the best year for home price gains since 2006.
We’ll check on consumer finances with the February personal income report. In January wages declined by 3.6%, much more than expected as payroll taxes increased, however, consumer spending edged up slightly.