2/14/11 – theGrio and CNBC Market Update

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Besides monitoring the events in Egypt, investors had a slew of economic data to digest last week. Credit card use rose in December for the first time since 2008, a sign of consumer confidence. New claims for jobless benefits declined by 36,000 last week to their lowest level since July 2008. Small business optimism jumped to its highest level in 3 years, but companies are still reluctant to hire.

In the week ahead, investors will get a read on consumers with earnings reports from Dell, Nordstrom, and Campbell soup – as well as housing, production, and inflation data.

We’ll check the pulse of the housing market with the January housing starts report. In December, new home construction fell 4.3 percent – with 2010 marking the second worst year for home construction in more than 50 years.

We’ll get a read on the economy with the January industrial production report – which looks at manufacturing, mining and utilities. Production rose .8 percent in December with utilities showing the biggest improvement.

Is inflation on the horizon? We’ll find out with the January consumer price index report – which tracks price changes for food, clothing, and energy. In December, prices rose half of a percent – the biggest increase in 18 months – driven by higher gas prices.