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Market-moving data this week

By Sheyna Steiner ·
Monday, March 12, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

This week's economic calendar will be dominated by the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Tuesday. Not much in the way of new information is expected from this week's meeting.

But Friday's nonfarm payrolls report from the Department of Labor showed more jobs than expected being added to employer payrolls for the month of February. Combined with decreases to the headline unemployment rate for five straight months through January, the Fed may find reasons to be a bit more enthusiastic about economic growth at Tuesday's meeting.

Before the Fed announcement, on Tuesday morning, the retail sales report will be released. The retail sales figures are generally reported as total sales, which measure sales of everything retailed including food and drinks, clothing, electronics and building materials, or as total sales minus the auto sector.

This report from the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department is generally regarded as a gauge of consumer sentiment and how much people are spending.

The producer price index will be released on Thursday. This report from the Department of Labor tracks changes in prices at the wholesale level throughout the manufacturing process. Core PPI tracks prices minus food and energy costs, which can be volatile. Price increases at the producer level can indicate commodity inflation, which can filter down to core inflation numbers, a relationship explored at some length in a recent speech given by William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Friday brings the consumer price index, which tracks the prices consumers pay for anything and everything. Typically, the core CPI is the focus, which strips away food and energy prices. This chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrates how volatile food and energy prices can be.

Later in the morning comes the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey. The survey gauges how spendy Americans are feeling and their confidence about the economy.

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