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US housing Data, Federal Funds Rate, Unemployment Claims and Bernanke’s speech are the major events this week. Let’s review the major market-movers coming up.

The credit warning by S&P had a strong and negative effect on the US dollar, sending it down across the board. Talks about a default in Greece are also mounting. Both themes will continue accompanying us.

Last week The of U.S. leading indicators index rose by an additional 0.4% indicating a boost in confidence and expansion in the market however the job market is still needed further improvement to maintain the upward momentum in manufacturing production.

  1. US New Home Sales: Monday, 15:00. Acquisitions of new U.S. homes unexpectedly dropped in February to a record low of 250,000 following 301,000 in January while 290,000 when forecasted. Foreclosures and existing homes remain more tempting to the American customer. An increase of 30,000 to 280,000 is predicted.
  2. US CB Consumer Confidence: Tuesday, 15:00. U.S. consumer confidence dropped more-than-expected in March to 63.4 vs. 72.0 in February due to growing fears of inflation in March. A rise to 64.7 in consumer confidence is expected now.
  3. UK GDP: Wednesday, 9:30. Preliminary GDP report for the 4th  quarter of 2010 dropped 0.5% from a previous reading of 0.7%. This is the most important GDP. The government uses this data to settle whether stimulus is needed to ensure economic growth. A positive increase of 0.5% is predicted.
  4. US Core Durable Goods Orders: Wednesday, 13:30. Durable goods Orders plunged in February by 0.6% from 0.3% drop in January due to a decline in sales of heavy machinery and military products. Analysts predicted 2.1% gain. A gain of 1.6% is forecasted now.
  5. US Rate Decision: Wednesday, 17:30. On the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting in January it was indicated that economic recovery is more solid and the job market seams to be improving steadily. The Committee maintains its target rate between 0 to 1/4 percent and will continue to follow the economic progress and financial developments. The rate is expected to remain unchanged at 0.25%.
  6. New Zealand Rate Decision: Wednesday, 22:00. Alan Bollard Governor of the Reserve Bank has cut the official cash rate by 0.5% to 2.5 % in light of the 6.3 magnitude Christchurch earthquake to decrease its economic impact. Rate is not likely to change this time.
  7. Japan Rate decision: Thursday. The Bank of Japan kept its overnight call rate between 0 to 0.1%, and opened a loan service for financial institutions in areas stricken by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The BOJ intends to lend a total of 1 trillion yen in one-year loans at 0.1%, and it said it would also widen the range of its eligible securities for this purpose. The central bank downgraded its economic assessment following the disasters in light of the serious blow in the production sector. The same rate is expected to be maintained.
  8. US Advance GDP: Thursday, 13:30. The US economy expanded at the rate of 3.2% in the fourth quarter while expectations for a 3.5% rise. Personal consumption surged 4.4% and GDP price index increased 0.3% in the fourth quarter versus forecasts for a 1.6% expansion. These figures strengthen the optimistic outlook for sustainable expansion in the US economy. Another increase of 1.8% is expected now.
  9. US Unemployment Claims: Thursday, 13:30. The number of Americans filing first time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 403,000. This figure is less than 394,000 expected but still above the 400,000 level indicating job growth.  However the four week average is still below this level leaving room for optimism. A reduction of 9,000 in the number of new unemployment claims applications is expected.
  10. US Pending Home Sales: Thursday, 15:00. Pending sales of existing U.S. homes, surprisingly increased by 2.1% in February, following a 2.8% drop in the previous month. Nevertheless the housing market is sill weak. Existing home sales are expected to rise 5% to 10%  in 2011 with overall improvement in the US economy, job creation and affordability conditions giving confidence to consumers. A smaller increase of 1.6% is forecasted.
  11. Canada GDP: Friday, 13:30. Canada’s economy expanded 0.5% in January in line with expectations following the same rate in December due to manufacturing, transportation and wholesale trade. A rate hike is possible in light of this increase. A flat rate is expected this time.
  12. Ben Bernanke speaks: Friday, 17:30. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gives luncheon speech before ‘The Changing Landscape of Community Development Linking Research with Policy and Practice in Low-Income Communities’ 2011 Community Affairs Research Conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in ARLINGTON, Virginia. He may talk about the improvement in the US economy and when he intends to rein monetary stimulus. His words have a major effect on the market.

*All times are GMT.

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