Here is a look at this week's economic news calendar:
The Energy Department says that gasoline prices moderated last week. The latest weekly report on retail prices shows that the average price of a gallon dropped a penny last week. The average gallon of regular unleaded now costs $2.50. Even with the small drop in prices, gasoline is 15 percent more expensive than it was a year ago, when a gallon cost $2.25.
[Rate at 4.5 percent/expect a 0.25 percent increase]
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee voted to increase a key interest rate today by a quarter-point. This means that the Fed Funds Rate -- which is what banks pay for overnight loans -- now stands at 4.75 percent. This is the 15th time since June 2004 that the Fed has raise rates. The last time the target was set higher was March 2001.
U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels to 340.7 million barrels in the week ending March 24 from the previous week, the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Gasoline inventories fell by 5.4 million barrels to 216.2 million barrels, and distillate inventories fell by 2.5 million barrels to 124.2 million barrels. The EIA also reported motor gasoline demand averaged 9.1 million barrels a day over the last four weeks, which is 1.3 percent above year-ago levels.
[expected: +1.7 percent/prior: +1.6 percent]
This is the last in a series of three calculations of the most comprehensive measure of U.S. economic activity from October to December 2005. The second release met economists' expectations of an upward revision to the original 1.1 percent estimate. Many economists believe the 1.7 percent is right on, and that we'll see a much better economic performance in the first quarter of 2006.
[Income: expected: +0.4 percent/prior: +0.7 percent]
[Spending: expected: +0.1 percent / prior: +0.9 percent]
Are we making more and spending more? Warm weather in January and those ubiquitous holiday gift cards pushed spending beyond expectations last month. The nation has a negative savings rate according to the report, but that might change as incomes are expected to grow faster than spending. The report also contains one of the Fed's favorite inflation measures.
[expected: +1.4 percent/prior: -4.5 percent]
Another measure of manufacturing health, this report measures orders for durable and nondurable goods. Last month saw a massive drop in orders thanks to a lack of auto and airplane orders.
Some information compiled from wire services.