This week is an important one on the economic calendar. The Federal Reserve holds its last policy meeting and news conference of the year. The central bank could possibly announce a change to its economic stimulus program, but that remains to be seen. Several updates on housing are expected, as well as consumer prices.
Industrial production data for November are at 9:15 a.m. Analysts expect production to have risen 0.6 percent, after a drop of 0.1 percent the previous month that was due to a falloff in mining.
The consumer price index for November is out at 8:30 a.m. The index, which serves as a measure of inflation, is forecast to be flat. It declined by 0.1 percent in October, the first decline in six months, because of lower energy prices. Excluding food and energy, consumer prices are projected to have risen 0.1 percent, the same rate of increase as the previous month.
The National Association of Home Builders releases its December survey of builders’ optimism. Analysts expect the index to rise a notch to 55, from 54 last month.
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee kicks off a two-day policy meeting, probably its last of 2013.
November housing starts data are out at 8:30 a.m. The number of starts is forecast to reach 960,000. (October’s number for housing starts was delayed by the government shutdown.) Building permits are expected to total 990,000. They crossed the 1 million mark in October.
At 2 p.m., the Fed releases its policy statement and projections. The central bank may start tapering its $85 billion stimulus program or announce when it will begin to do so. After the announcement, outgoing Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is slated to host his last news conference in Washington.
Weekly jobless claims are expected to fall to 337,000 after surging to 368,000 last week. The surge was attributed to an adjustment in data during the holiday period.
The National Association of Realtors publishes existing-home sales data for November at 10 a.m. Sales are expected to have declined by 1.4 percent after tumbling more than 3 percent the previous month. Higher mortgage rates and home prices are among the factors causing home sales to fall.
The third revision to the country’s third-quarter growth rate is projected to show no change. The growth rate was a solid 3.6 percent.