American consumers remained undeterred by an increase in the payroll tax, if last week’s data are to be believed. Retail sales rose slightly for the month of January.

In a surprising turn, the federal government reported a budget surplus, the first since September 2012.

This week brings updates on inflation and the health of the housing market — considered one of the recent bright spots in the economic recovery.


Markets are closed on Presidents’ Day.


The National Association of Home Builders releases its housing market index for January at 10 a.m. Forecasters predict a slight increase to 48 from the previous month’s 47.


More housing data comes out with the 8:30 a.m. release of information on new housing starts. January’s number is expected to drop to 920,000 from December’s 954,000.

The Producer Price Index also comes out at 8:30 a.m. The index, which sheds light on how inflation affects businesses, is expected to increase by 0.4 percent. In December, it declined by 0.2 percent.

At 2 p.m., the Federal Open Market Committee releases the minutes of its last policy meeting, when members announced a decision to continue keeping interest rates low as the economy recovers.


Weekly jobless claims are out at 8:30 a.m. The number of applications is expected to increase to 355,000 from last week’s 341,000.

The consumer price index, which gauges how inflation affects the average consumer, is also out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts project an increase of 0.1 percent in January. The index was unchanged in December.

Finally, January’s existing-home sales numbers come out at 10 a.m. The number is forecast to drop a bit, to 4.9 million from 4.94 million.

Amrita Jayakumar

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