theGrio and CNBC Market Update: 4/17/13

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Besides watching the markets reach new all-time highs, there was quite a bit of economic data to analyze. Home foreclosures fell 3 percent in march to its lowest level in five years. Small business optimism declined in March to an  89.5 reading as washington gridlock weighed on confidence…and new claims for jobless benefits fell by 42,000 to 346,000 — the biggest weekly drop since November, signaling a stronger labor market. In the week ahead we expect data on the economy, housing and inflation.

We’ll gain insight on the economy with the fed’s beige book, which looks at economic trends from the fed’s twelve districts such as Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas. The last report was a mixed bag, retail sales slowed and hiring plans were soft.  However, this was offset by strong auto sales and rising home prices.

Speaking of housing, we’ll check on the recovery, with the March housing starts report. In February new construction rose by .8%. While building permits, a gauge of future building activity, rose 4.6% percent.

We’ll get a read on inflation with the march consumer price index report, which tracks price changes for food, clothing and energy. In February consumer prices rose by .7 percent, the biggest increase since June 2009, due to higher gas prices.