This week’s economic news will contain updates on retail sales and housing starts. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke travels to Capitol Hill to deliver his semi-annual policy report before Congress, while the Group of 20’s finance ministers travel to Moscow for a two-day meeting.
Retail sales for June are out at 8:30 a.m. Sales are expected to increase by 0.8 percent, after a rise of more than a half-percent last month. An improving economy and increased consumer confidence have contributed to retail sales gains during the past few months.
Business inventories for May are released at 10 a.m. Inventory is expected to remain unchanged, after a 0.3 percent gain in April.
The Consumer Price Index for June — a key measure of inflation — is released at 8:30 a.m. The index is forecast to rise by 0.4 percent from the previous month and by 1.7 percent from a year ago. It rose by 0.1 percent in May.
Industrial production numbers for June are out at 9:15 a.m. Production is expected to increase by 0.2 percent in June, after it remained flat in May.
The National Association of Home Builders releases its July survey on the state of the economy and housing market at 10 a.m. The index is expected to fall a notch to 51, from 52 last month, but the figure still indicates a positive outlook on the housing market.
More housing data are released. Housing starts for June are out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts predict that starts will increase by 5 percent, to reach 960,000. The number of building permits is expected to touch 1 million, an increase of 1.5 percent — following a decrease of more than 3 percent in May. In a housing market plagued with low inventory, housing starts are a good indication of whether new construction activity is increasing.
Bernanke testifies at 10 a.m. about monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee and faces questions from lawmakers. Bernanke’s testimony is likely to be closely watched as markets look to receive clarification on the Fed’s policy direction for the rest of the year. Later in the day, the Fed’s Beige Book — an anecdotal look on the state of the economy — is released.
Weekly jobless claims, released at 8:30 a.m., are expected to fall to 344,000, from 360,000 last week.
Bernanke testifies at 10:30 a.m. on monetary policy before the Senate banking committee.
Central bankers and financial ministers from the G-20 kick off a two-day meeting in Moscow. The leaders are expected to discuss tax evasion, Japan’s anti-deflation policies and global stimulus measures.