This week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew makes his first official trip to Europe to discuss economic policy. New economic data could shed light on the health of businesses and the country’s job market.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a financial conference in Atlanta about the lessons learned from stress-testing banks. Meanwhile, Secretary Lew meets with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.


The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) releases its small-business optimism index for March at 7:30 a.m. Analysts expect the index to remain at about the same level as last month, 90.8.

At 10 a.m., February wholesale trade numbers — which track wholesalers’ inventories — are released. The figure is expected to increase by 0.5 percent, after January’s unexpected spike of 1.2 percent.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for January is released at 10 a.m. This index, which offers more insight into the job market, is worth watching in the wake of last week’s disappointing unemployment numbers.

Lew meets German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin.


At 2 p.m., the Federal Open Market Committee releases the minutes of its March 20 meeting. After last month’s meeting, the Fed upheld its policy of keeping interest rates low and said the economy was growing at a moderate pace.


Weekly jobless claims are expected to drop to 360,000 from last week’s number of 385,000.

The import price index for March is released at 8:30 a.m. The index, which serves as a gauge for inflation, is forecast to drop by 0.5 percent, following February’s rise of 1.1 percent.


Retail sales for March are out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts predict that they remained flat last month, following a 1.1 percent increase in February. The retail sector lost jobs after months of steady gains, according to last week’s unemployment report.

The Producer Price Index for March is expected to drop by 0.1 percent. The index rose by 0.7 percent in February. Business inventories for March are expected to increase by 0.4 percent, from 1 percent in February.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the European Union kick off a two-day conference in Dublin.

— Amrita Jayakumar