- New Home Sales: New home sales took another stiff hit in February — sales fell to their lowest level since the data started being collected in 1963 despite a drop in new home prices. Some market experts have speculated that’s because the drop in new home prices hasn’t gone far enough to lower the premium on a new home compared to an existing one and to attract buyers. March data come out Monday at 10 a.m.
- Consumer Confidence: Higher oil and gas prices at the pump outweighed recent gains in employment and took a toll on the consumer sentiment index in March. With gas prices already exceeding $4 a gallon in some areas and further increases expected, compounded by recent news that the S&P is lowering the U.S.’s debt outlook to negative, consumer sentiment will likely continue to decline. April data are due out Tuesday at 10 a.m.
- Fed Watch: With two months to go until the end of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 policy, the question on everyone’s mind these days is, when will the FOMC announce a rate hike. Up to this point, Fed officials have been reluctant to raise interest rates and abandon their monetary policy, arguing that keeping rates low will boost a sustainable recovery. Watch for a rate announcement on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. which will feature Chairman Bernanke’s first-ever post-meeting briefing with reporters.
- GDP: U.S. Q1 2011 GDP data is due out the day after the FOMC rate decision. It could provide a reality check for those people who weren’t upset by the S&P’s decision last week to lower the U.S. credit outlook to “negative.” Watch for Q1 2011 numbers on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
- Personal Income and Spending: Personal spending in February had its strongest increase since October 2010. Personal disposable income also increased. Any spike in inflation could mitigate much of the increase in spending. Data for March come out Friday at 8:30 a.m.