5 Things to Watch on the Economic Calendar BY JOSH MITCHELL

Link to article: http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2016/02/12/5-things-to-watch-on-the-economic-calendar-106/

5 Things to Watch on the Economic Calendar

The state of the economy is a hot topic amid volatile stock markets and rising fears of a recession. After the Presidents Day holiday, measures of industrial production, home building and inflation highlight the week of economic indicators.

  • Falling Industrial Production

    Output by major industries–factories, mines and utilities–is one of the main indicators economists pay attention to when trying to gauge the economy’s health and the risk of a recession. Industrial production has slipped for three straight months. The report on January industrial production, out Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, will show how much lower oil prices, the strong dollar and weak exports are continuing to weigh on output.

    DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS
  • Weak Inflation

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    The precipitous decline in oil and global economic weakness are tamping down inflation, making the Fed’s job that much tougher as it considers lifting short-term interest rates further. Look for an update on the inflation picture with the Labor Department’s release of the January consumer-price index, out Friday, and the producer-price index, out Wednesday.

  • Rising Home Construction

    The housing market–including sales and construction–helped buoy the U.S. economy last year. Housing startsdeclined in December from November, but for all of 2015, they were up nearly 11% compared with 2014.Wednesday’s release of January housing starts, along with Tuesday’s release of the National Association of Home Builders survey for February, will show whether the sector is sustaining momentum.

    10.8%
    Increase in U.S. housing starts in 2015 compared with 2014
  • Fed Thinking

    The week will also bring clues about the Fed’s thinking on the economy and future interest-rate increases. Wednesday, the central bank releases minutes from its Jan. 26-27 meeting, when it left doubts about whether it would raise rates in March. Meanwhile, a slew of officials are set to speak publicly, including San Francisco FedPresident John Williams–considered a policy centrist–on Thursday and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member of the Fed’s policy committee, on Wednesday.

    James Bullard

    DAVID ORRELL/CNBC/GETTY IMAGES
  • Manufacturing Woes

    The strong dollar, weak exports and lower oil prices have walloped U.S. factories.  Two reports on regional factories–the New York Fed’s Empire State survey Tuesday and the Philadelphia Fed survey Thursday–will offer a peek at how the manufacturing sector is performing. Each survey covers activity for February.

    Employees work on a motorcycle at a Harley-Davidson Inc. manufacturing facility in York, Pa.

    JOHN TAGGART/BLOOMBERG NEWS

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