MODERATE INFLATION RESUMES
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% for a second consecutive month in March, as did the Producer Price Index (in a marked departure from its 0.5% February retreat). Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast an 0.3% March advance in both the headline CPI and PPI.
GROUNDBREAKING UP 2.0% FOR MARCH
Housing industry analysts had expected a much greater increase; this put the annual pace of housing starts at 926,000 instead of the desired 1 million mark. The Census Bureau also reported building permits declining 5.7% last month.
CONSUMER SENTIMENT, RETAIL SALES BOTH RISE
Shoppers increased retail purchases by 0.9% in March, 0.4% minus auto buying. Retail sales had slipped 1.1% in February. The University of Michigan’s initial April consumer sentiment index came in at 95.9, 2.9 points above its final March reading.
OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENTS IMPEDE U.S. STOCKS
Two factors played major roles in Wall Street’s sharp Friday selloff: renewed fears of Greece defaulting on its debt payments to the International Monetary Fund, and China’s decision to limit margin trading and allow more short selling in its stock market. The major indices retreated as follows across the week: Dow, 1.28% to 17,826.30; Nasdaq, 1.28% to 4,931.81; S&P 500, 0.99% to 2,081.18.
THIS WEEK: On Monday, Morgan Stanley, Halliburton, IBM, Rent-A-Center, Hasbro and Royal Caribbean Cruises present earnings. Tuesday, the earnings parade continues with results from Under Armour, Kimberly-Clark, East West Bancorp, Credit Suisse Group, Northern Trust, Chipotle, Discover, Lockheed Martin, Amgen, Fifth Third, Manpower, Verizon, Gannett Co., Harley-Davidson, and Yum! Brands. Wednesday, March existing home sales figures complement earnings from Logitech, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Facebook, Cheesecake Factory, Owens Corning, Boeing, eBay, McDonald’s, Qualcomm, Abbott Labs, Bank of New York Mellon, Raymond James, Ameriprise Financial, AutoNation and Texas Instruments. Thursday brings factory PMIs for China and the euro area, March new home sales numbers, a new initial claims report and earnings from BB&T, Procter & Gamble, Southwest Airlines, 3M, Capital One, Dunkin’ Brands, Altera, General Motors, E*Trade, Caterpillar, Google, Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Amazon, Briggs & Stratton, Dr. Pepper Snapple and PepsiCo. Euro area finance ministers and central bankers meet Friday as Wall Street interprets March hard goods orders and earnings from Siemens, Tyco, State Street, Xerox, American Airlines and Biogen.