In addition to watching the volatility in the stock market, investors had quite a bit of data to analyze last week. The fed left its key interest rate, which affects mortgage, credit card and student loan rates — unchanged and plans to keep it that way for the next two years citing a weak recovery. Small business optimism dipped in July because of weaker sales forecasts and new claims for jobless benefits fell by 7,000 to 395,000, the lowest level since April. In the week ahead, investors expect several reads on the consumer with earnings reports from Home Depot, Wal-mart and Target — as well as data on housing, production and inflation.

We’ll get a read on the housing market with the July housing starts report. In June, housing starts surged 14.6 percent driven by an increase in apartment construction and building permits — a gauge of future building activity — increased 2½ percent.

We’ll gain insight on the economy with the July industrial production report. In June, industrial production, which tracks activity in manufacturing, mining and utilities — rose modestly on a rebound in utilities.

Inflation a concern? We’ll find out with the July consumer price index report — which tracks price changes for food, clothing and energy. In June, prices fell slightly as gas prices declined.