Economic data: Housing starts, wholesale prices both the headline number and building permits were below expectations, but not at worrying levels.Fundamentals still remain strong, as earnings growth this season so far beat expectations. We are optimistic about the markets in 2014, however, this year we do need the economy to grow for companies to sustain earnings and drive markets higher.
Construction on new U.S. homes tumbled 16% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000, with drops for single-family homes and apartments, according to Commerce Department. Economists said particularly poor weather hit construction last month. Building permits, a sign of future demand, fell to the lowest rate since August.
U.S. producer prices rose in January under the government’s new formula for measuring wholesale inflation, the Labor Department said Wednesday.
Investors will also focus on the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting in January, scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern. At the meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to cut back its asset-purchase program by another $10 billion.
In other central-bank news, two nonvoting members are slated to speak. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart will talk about the economic outlook at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., at 12:15 p.m. Eastern, followed by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard’s speech on the U.S. economy and monetary policy in Washington, D.C. at 1 p.m. Eastern.