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Market-moving data this week

By Sheyna Steiner · Bankrate.com
Monday, February 27, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Economic reports coming out this week deal with a few key areas of the economy including housing, consumers and manufacturing.

There's just one caveat, according to Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J.

"All of these economic indicators or rather most of them that will come out (this) week are backward looking, and that has become an increasing problem for investors primarily because there are just so many major uncertainties that investors are facing right now," he says.

What the reports will tell economists is whether or not the recovery is on track.

Housing

Monday brings the pending home sales index from the National Association of Realtors. Homes for which a sales contract has been signed, but the deal hasn't closed, are counted.

On Wednesday, the weekly mortgage applications survey from the Mortgage Brokers Association will be released.

The next day, Thursday, construction spending comes out from the Census Bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce.

"We have three key measures that will tell us whether the housing industry is still on track, which is obviously very important for the economy because it tells us that the worst is over. The improvement in housing, if it can be sustained, goes a long way towards sustaining the economy and the recovery," says Baumohl.

Consumers

On Tuesday, the consumer confidence index from The Conference Board will be released.

Thursday will feature the personal income and outlays report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the Department of Commerce. That report measures incomes and changes in spending and saving patterns.

"Consumer spending is very critical to the economy since it makes up 70 percent of all economic activity. Consumers may be more anxious with gas prices seemingly rising by the day and the prospect of more of these increases," says Baumohl.

"A decline in confidence could lead to a decline in spending, so we have to be very careful about investments in the retail sector and in companies that benefit from discretionary spending on the part of consumers," he says.

Manufacturing

Also appearing on Tuesday is the durable goods orders report from the Census Bureau, which measures industrial activity and points toward future manufacturing and business activity.

For this week, "this is the one forward-looking indicator and the one that does have some predicative value. If there is an increase in orders for durable goods, that will lead to an increase in production," says Baumohl.

"It is fairly good measure of what industrial production, factories and manufacturers will do down the road," he says.

GDP

Last but of course not least, the gross domestic product for the U.S. comes out on Wednesday, and that will reflect how the economy performed in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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