Reuters

(Reuters)

Week Ahead: Housing Data and Fed Minutes

By Politics FOXBusiness

Lots of data next week highlighted by a housing report, a key inflation gauge and minutes from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting.

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U.S. securities markets are closed Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

A report on January housing starts is due Wednesday and the report will likely show a slight gain from a year ago when housing construction was severely curtailed because of harsh weather in much of the country.

Housing starts is also used as an important measure of the health of the U.S. construction sector.

The Producer Price Index (PPI), a key measure of inflationary pressure, measures prices at the producer level before they are passed along to final consumers. The index will be released on Wednesday.

Inflation is being closely watched by the Fed for signs that prices are rising to a level considered healthy by economists. Inflation has remained well below the Fed’s 2% target rate primarily due to stagnant wages, which have kept consumer prices low.

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Also due on Wednesday are the minutes from the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Markets Committee meeting in January. The Fed’s statement from that meeting was perceived as mixed: the policy makers cited “solid” growth in the U.S. economy, but reiterated their position to remain patient while deciding when to raise interest rates.

The meeting notes should shed light on this seeming split and potentially provide insight into the timing and trajectory of rate hikes, likely in mid-2015.

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