This week the economic calendar is light with readings on the housing sector the highlight. Existing and New Home sales will be released this week and comes after Housing Starts fell 16.5% in April. The fall in starts was due largely in part to a plunge in apartment construction.
The summer driving season unofficially kicks off this Friday with Memorial Day Weekend. The national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline has risen slightly in the past few weeks to $3.65, up from $3.51 a month ago as oil prices have begun to push a bit higher. Gas prices usually tick up headed into the summer driving season, but AAA says that analysts are projecting that prices should average between $3.20 to $3.40 per gallon by mid-summer.
Over in the capital markets, the closely watched S&P 500 Index closed at a record high of 1,667 on Friday and it was the fourth straight week that the index closed higher. The Stock market’s rise has been attributed towards a recovery in U.S. economic conditions, better than expected corporate earnings and due in a large part to the continued stimulus programs enacted by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday in front of the Joint Economic Committee testifying on the current state of the U.S. economy. Mr. Bernanke will most likely weigh in on the recent mixed indications on the strength of the economic recovery and will also discuss the current Quantitative Easing programs that are geared towards fostering maximum employment and ensuring that inflation, over time, is at the rate consistent with the Fed’s projections.