- The economic calendar for the week ending March 21 contains reports on the U.S. housing sector, inflation and factory activity, but the main event that investors will be focusing on is the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, concluding on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the euro zone is to produce what will be closely watched data on inflation. Here are the main events to watch out for:

Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

This will be the first Federal Reserve board meeting with Janet Yellen at the helm. Investors expect the Fed to continue to taper its bond purchasing program by $10 billion to $55 billion, despite recent weak U.S. economic reports. The central bank is also expected to hold interest rates at record lows.
The Fed meeting is to be followed by a press conference with Janet Yellen and the bank is also to publish its forecasts on inflation and economic growth.

U.S. inflation report

The U.S. inflation report is due to be published on Tuesday. U.S. inflation has remained at a very low level in recent years, allowing leeway for the Federal Reserve to hold the benchmark interest rate close to zero.

Euro zone inflation report

The euro zone is to release official data on the annual rate of inflation on Monday, amid concerns over deflationary pressures. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday the strong euro was dragging down inflation, indicating growing concerns that the appreciation of the euro could undermine the fragile recovery in the euro area. The annual rate of inflation in the euro area came in at 0.8% in February, well below the ECB’S target of just under 2%.

U.S. housing sector data

On Tuesday the U.S. is to release official data on building permits and housing starts. This will be followed by a private sector report on existing home sales on Thursday. Housing starts dropped 16% in January as a result of severe winter weather, while building permits fell 4.6%. Weather conditions remained bad in February, so forecasters are expecting only a moderate rebound of 3.4% for housing starts in February.

German ZEW

The ZEW Centre for Economic Research is to publish its report on German economic sentiment on Tuesday. The index deteriorated slightly in February amid concerns that the economic recovery in the U.S. is losing momentum and forecasters expect the index to continue to tick lower this month.

New Zealand GDP

New Zealand is to publish data on fourth quarter gross domestic product on Wednesday. Last week, the New Zealand dollar rallied to 10-month highs against the greenback after the Reserve Bank raised interest rates to 2.75% from a record low 2.5%, becoming the first developed nation to exit record-low borrowing costs. The bank also revised up its forecast for growth in the year to March 31.

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