This week, the Federal Open Market Committee holds its third annual policy meeting, a critical one to watch. After months of speculation about when and whether the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its economic stimulus program, Fed officials are likely to announce their decision after the meeting.


At 9:15 a.m., industrial production data for August are released. Production remained unchanged in July from the previous month. Analysts expect it to rise by 0.5 percent this time.


At 8:30 a.m, the consumer price index — a key measure of inflation — is released. The August forecast calls for a rise of 0.2 percent from July. On a year-over-year basis, analysts predict an increase of 1.6 percent from August 2012.

The National Association of Home Builders releases its survey of home builders’ outlook in September. The index is expected to drop a notch to 58, from 59.

The Fed kicks off its two-day policy meeting.


At 8:30 a.m., numbers for housing starts in August are released. Analysts forecast an increase of 2.7 percent from July. Building permits are expected to drop by 0.4 percent. On a yearly basis, analysts expect the number of starts to total 915,000, compared with 896,000 in July.

At 2 p.m., the Fed releases its policy statement and projections for the economy. Analysts expect no immediate change in the interest rate of 0.25 percent. But the Fed may announce when it will begin tapering its $85 billion bond-buying program. If the central bank does announce a pullback, analysts predict that it will probably curb the program by $10 billion.

At 2:30 p.m, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke holds a news conference in Washington.


Weekly jobless claims are expected to rise to 341,000 after a drop to 292,000 last week. The sharp drop was caused by a technical error in data processing, the Labor Department reported last week.

Existing-home sales for August are out at 10 a.m. Analysts expect sales to drop by 2.6 percent, probably because of increasing mortgage rates. Sales were up by 6.5 percent in July.