U.S. ECONOMICS: Economic Outlook For Week of Feb 17 - Feb 21


The severe winter weather and its impact on the U.S. housing market will be the focus of next week's calendar with the release of housing starts and existing home sales, both expected to take a sizable hit. According to estimates from the National Bank of Canada, existing home sales likely fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.70 million units in January from 4.87 million in December. The same goes for housing starts which should show another decline from December's 999,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace. Permits, however, should remain fairly resilient as the construction of new homes will resume once the snow melts.

Insulated from the weather are the consumer and producer price indices, released on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Inflationary pressures will continue to grow at a very slow pace, keeping in line with the current inflation rate of 1.6% and 1.5% for the core.

Finally, the FOMC minutes from the December policy meeting -- in which members voted to reduce QE by another $10 billion -- will be released on Wednesday. Few surprises are expected, although the minutes will be scrutinized for any indication that emerging market weakness and weather-related drag on the economy might have caused some members to reconsider further reductions. Although Yellen dismissed the impact of emerging markets on Fed policy, the minutes will be dissected for any signs of hesitation from other Fed members.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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