The focus this week will be on Tuesday when minutes from the March 18 FOMC meeting, when the Fed cut interest rates by 75 bps, are released. Markets will also receive preliminary University of Michigan/Reuters survey data for April and U.S. trade balance. In Canada, markets will receive housing data with the release of the housing starts report, and new housing price data later in the week.

Economists from Lehman Brothers said they will be interested to read the FOMC minutes to see if there was more dissent for aggressive easing of interest rates.

"Although we believe that Chairman Bernanke had and continues to have ample support for continued aggressive easing in light of disrupted financial markets, we will look closely for any signs that there is more widespread unease over the actions," said economists from Lehman Brothers in their research notes.



Later in the week, markets will receive U.S. trade balance data, which is expected to come in at a deficit of $57.0 billion. Meny Grauman, from CIBC World Markets, said that although the U.S. economy is expected to decline, the data will show that U.S. trade is holding up well.

"Although our outlook for the economy is decidedly negative over the next two quarters, an improving net American trade position should continue to make a positive contribution to overall economic performance," he said.

While U.S. data is more positive, Canadian trade has suffered from a high loonie and lower U.S. demand. The consensus is for Canadian international merchandise trade to come in at C$3.4 billion from January's level of C$3.3 billion. According to Karen Cordes, an economist from Scotia Capital, the rise comes from higher commodity prices.

"The merchandise trade balance will likely improve in February' supported by an increase in commodity prices and auto production," she said. "Continued weakness in the US will still likely offset some of these gains but probably not enough to limit a gain in February's trade surplus."

To round out the week, markets will receive University of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment survey, which is expected to come in at 69.0 following March's reading of 69.5.

Paul Ashworth, U.S. economist from Capital Economics, said he doesn't expect a lot of good news for U.S. consumers.

"Confidence has been hit by deteriorating conditions in the labour market, surging gasoline prices, falling house prices and the ongoing turmoil in financial markets. There is little prospect of any meaningful improvement in confidence until one or more of those headwinds begins to ease," he said.

All times in EDT.

Monday: The week starts with Canadian building permits, which is expected to rise 1.0% following January's decline of 2.9%. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, San Francisco Fed president Janet Yellen (non-voter) and Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn (voter) will speak at separate events.

8:30 CA Building Permits (M/M) FEB Exp: +1.3% Prior: -2.9%
9:30 US Treasury's Paulson to Speak at IADB Meeting in Miami Beach
13:00 US TSY to Sell $24B 3-Month Bills
13:00 US TSY to Sell $21B 6-Month Bills
15:00 US Consumer Credit FEB Exp: $5.5B Prior: $6.9B
16:00 US Treasury's Paulson, Commerce's Gutierrez Speak in Miami Beach
17:30 US Fed's Yellen Gives Opening Remarks at Seattle Branch
17:30 US Fed's Kohn Gives Remarks at San Francisco Fed Seattle Branch

Tuesday: Markets will focus on the FOMC minutes from the March 18 meeting. Before the minutes, Canadian housing starts will be released, which are expected to come in at 225,000 following February's starts of 256,900.

8:15 CA Housing Starts March Exp: 225.0K Prior: 256.9K
10:00 US Pending Home Sales (M/M) FEB Exp: -0.8% Prior: 0.0%
10:00 US IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism APR Exp: 41.5 Prior: 42.5
14:00 US Minutes of March 18 FOMC Meeting
17:00 US ABC Consumer Confidence 6-Apr Prior: -33
8-Apr US DOE Short-Term Crude Outlook APR Prior: +85.92K
8-Apr US DOE Short-Term Ht Oil Outlook APR Prior: +3.12K
8-Apr US DOE Short- Term MoGas Outlook APR Prior: +3.22K

Wednesday: It's a quiet day, but markets will listen to what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has to say at an event in Washington D.C. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher (voter) will also speak at an event in San Antonio.

7:00 US MBA Mortgage Applications 4-Apr Prior: -28.7%
9:30 US Bernanke Speaks on Financial Literacy in Washington
10:00 US Wholesale Inventories FEB Exp: +0.5% Prior: +0.8%
10:30 US DOE U.S. Crude Oil Inventories 4-Apr Prior: +7317K
10:30 US DOE U.S. Gasoline Inventories 4-Apr Prior: -4525K
10:30 US DOE U.S. Distillate Inventory 4-Apr Prior: -1629K
10:30 US DOE U.S. Refinery Utilization 4-Apr Prior: +0.2%
13:30 US Fed's Fisher Speaks in San Antonio on U.S. Economy
15:00 US Treasury's McCormick gives Media Briefing ahead of G-7 Meeting

Thursday: Markets will receive the U.S. trade balance data for February, which is expected to record a deficit of $57.6 billion following January's deficit of $58.2 billion.

At the same time, the Canadian International Merchandise trade will be released. Economists forecast a surplus of C$3.5 billion following a C$3.3 billion surplus in January. Later in the afternoon markets will receive the U.S. monthly budget, which is expected to have a deficit of $80.0 billion following February's deficit of $96.3 billion.

8:30 US Trade Balance FEB Exp: -$57.5B Prior: -$58.2B
8:30 US Initial Jobless Claims 5-Apr Exp: +380K Prior: 407K
8:30 CA International Merchandise Trade FEB Exp: C$3.4 Prior: C$3.3
8:30 US Continuing Claims 29-March Exp: 2940K Prior: 2937K
10:30 US EIA Natural Gas Storage Change 4-Apr Prior: -29
13:00 US Bernanke Speaks on PWG, Financial Stability Forum in Richmond
13:30 US ICSC Chain Store Sales (Y/Y) March Prior: +1.9%
14:00 US Monthly Budget Statement March Exp: -$73.7B Prior: -$96.3B

Friday: The week will end with February Canadian new housing prices, which is expected to rise 0.4% following January's increase of 0.6%. Markets will also receive preliminary data for the University of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment for April.

8:30 CA New Housing Price Index (M/M) FEB Exp: +0.4% Prior: +0.6%
8:30 US Import Price Index (M/M) March Exp: +2.0% Prior: +0.2%
8:30 US Import Price Index (Y/Y) March Exp: +13.7% Prior: +13.6%
9:00 US Fed's Fisher Gives Welcome Remarks at Conference in Dallas
10:00 US U. of Michigan/Reuters Consumer Sentiment April Preliminary Exp: 69.0 Prior: 69.5

By Neils Christensen and edited by Cristina Markham