The economic data calendar thins out a bit but market watchers still have plenty of news and events to absorb in the days ahead. MND expects investors to focus on the health of consumer balance sheets and whether or not Main Street is feeling the pain of a margin squeeze as food and energy costs rise without much needed growth in hourly wages. 

Reuters reports the week’s main event on the data front is likely to be February retail sales on Friday. They have recovered to pre-recession levels and are seen up again, to 1.0 percent, according to a preliminary Reuters poll, after a 0.3 pct rise in January to continue a resilient trend in consumer spending. The ex-autos figure should also rise to 0.6 percent compared with 0.3 percent the month before, which should also support the favorable tone. Also on Friday comes the preliminary Reuters/ University of Michigan Sentiment Index for March, which may not be as optimistic  as consumer sentiment loses traction with a drop to 76.5 from 77.5. On Monday, as a precursor to Retail Sales data, we'll get an update on the funding sources Main Street has leaned on to fuel its spending habits.  Consumer Credit prints at 3pm.

The international trade deficit for February will be released on Thursday. President Barack Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have called attention to the important role emerging economies will play in our economic recovery process. Trade demand from overseas economies has already helped spark a sharp rebound in U.S. manufacturing activity.  The Trade Deficit is expected to widen to $41.5 billion from 40.58 billion. Price impacts should lead the deterioration, but the real deficit is expected to widen as well. The same day offers the usual initial jobless claims, which are expected to show a limited 15,000 bounce to 380,000 after the two previous declines reinforced the downward trend. Last week’s number was 368,000.

Beyond scheduled data, mortgage professionals should remember that 30-year Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac MBS coupons start the settlement process on Tuesday. Treasury will auction $66 billion in 3-year, 10-year, and 30-year debt. Several Federal Reserve speakers will share insight. Unrest in Northern Africa and Middle East has further intensified and oil prices are trending higher as a result. And last but not least we can't forget continued debate on Capitol Hill over budget cuts, the debt ceiling, and housing finance reform.

Recap of Economic Releases in the Week Ahead....

Other Market Events in the Week Ahead....


8:00 - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart speaks on "The U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy" before the National Association for Business Economics 27th Annual Economic Policy Conference: "Balancing Austerity and Growth: Delivering Policies That Work". Audience and media Q&As expected.

9:15 - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher speaks on "Challenges and Opportunities Facing the U.S. and Global Economy" before the Institute of International Bankers 2011 Annual Washington Conference. Audience Q&A expected. Media Q&A TBD.
10:00 - Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans discusses economic issues in live CNBC interview

10:15 - The New York Federal Reserve's trading desk will purchase an estimated $5-7 billion in Treasuries maturing between 09/15/2013 – 02/28/2015

1:45 - Distinguished speakers discuss "Fannie & Freddie: Fix Up or Foreclose?", at the National Association of Business Economic Annual Policy Conference. Panelists include Celia Chen, Senior Director, Moody's Analytics, moderator. Jay Brinkmann, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Mortgage Bankers Association. Joseph Tracy, Executive VP and Senior Advisor to the President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Honorable Susan Wachter, Professor, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. FULL SCHEDULE


10:00 -  Senate Banking Committee holds hearing on nomination of Peter Diamond to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors

10:15 - The New York Federal Reserve's trading desk will purchase an estimated $6-8 billion in Treasuries maturing between 09/30/2016 – 02/28/2018

1:00 - Treasury will auction $32 billion 3-year notes.

Class A MBS Coupons (Fannie and Freddie 30s) begin the monthly settlement process.


10:00- The House Financial Services Committee continues the markup to consider the following measures: H.R. 839, "The HAMP Termination Act of 2011" and H.R. 861, "NSP Termination Act"

10:15 - The New York Federal Reserve's trading desk will purchase an estimated $5-7 billion in Treasuries maturing between 03/31/2015 – 08/31/2016

1:00 - Treasury will auction $21 billion 10-year notes (reopening)


The Federal Reserve's Consumer Advisory Council meets to discuss foreclosure issues; neighborhood stabilization and real estate owned (REO) issues; proposed rules regarding debit card interchange fees and routing and other agenda. 

10:00 - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will host a half-day symposium - "Don't Bet the Farm: Assessing the Boom in U.S. Farmland Prices" - to discuss issues associated with escalating farmland values over the previous decade.  In announcing the symposium, FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said, "Farmland values have doubled on average in the past ten years, and continue to rise in an environment of ample liquidity and low interest rates. While we see strong fundamentals in the farm sector at present, the sector remains vulnerable to a reversal of market conditions or a rise in interest rates. The lending and borrowing decisions made now, when collateral values are high, will shape credit performance down the road.

1:00 - Treasury will auction $13 billion 30-year bonds (reopening)

2:00 - The New York Federal Reserve's Trading Desk will release an approximate purchase amount and tentative outright Treasury operation schedule.


8:30 -  Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley speaks before the Queens Chamber of Commerce on the state of the regional economy and the outlook for the U.S. economy
10:00- The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets & Govt Sponsored Enterprises holds a hearing on  “Legislative Proposals to Create a Covered Bond Market in the United States”

10:00- The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, & Community Opportunity holds on a hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Reform the National Flood Insurance Program”


Rate Techs: Short-Term Targets Identified