US Markets

What to watch in the business world this week

March rate hike 'as done as it gets': Ian Shepherdson
March rate hike 'as done as it gets': Ian Shepherdson

Good morning. Good Monday. Good markets. Welcome back to the week ahead on Wall Street and a look at what investors need to know for the next five days.

We've got a plateful of things happening around the markets, the economy and the nexus in Washington that controls it all. Here's what we've got cooking:

Janet Yellen
Xinhua | Bao Dandan | Getty Images

It's all about the Fed

No other event this week will dominate market coverage more than the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting Tuesday and Wednesday.

If market expectations are on the nose, the central bank will push its key overnight lending rate up another quarter point, which in turn should boost borrowing costs across the economy. Don't expect a big jump, however, in the rate on plain-vanilla savings accounts, which pay about 0.11 percent interest, according to Bankrate. There's usually a considerable lag between when the Fed moves and when savers start to see any benefit.

Fed officials in recent days have made no secret of their desire to get rates closer to a normal level after years of holding them back following the financial crisis. Friday's solid nonfarm payrolls report should give the Fed the final impetus it needs.

Heading into the week, traders were assigning a 91 percent chance of an increase, according to the CME. In the Fed's world, that is an explicit go-ahead that provides a near-certainty of action.

President Donald Trump (2nd L) speaks as House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) (L), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) (3rd L) and other House members listen during a meeting with the House Deputy Whip team at the East Room of the White House March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Eyeballing the economy

It will be a busy week for economic reports, though none likely will sway the Fed.

The Trump economy has two things going for it: job creation and enthusiasm. Working against it, though, has been a parade of hard data painting a gloomy picture to start the year. This week's batch will be closely watched, particularly for signs of inflation.

Tuesday will provide a look at producer prices, while Wednesday will be the key Consumer Price Index to see where prices for the rest of us are headed. There's also a look at small business Tuesday, when the National Federation of Independent Business releases its sentiment index.

Thursday's got the usual jobless claims data, plus housing starts and building permits. Later in the day, the Department of Labor releases its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report. That's a gauge of vacancies, plus how quickly workers are leaving their current positions. It's a favorite of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

The week closes on Friday with readings on industrial production and capacity utilization — both gauges on how close to full the economy is running — as well as the always-important University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to address a press conference at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party headquarters in Berlin, on November 20, 2016.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Up on the Hill

The halls of Congress and the White House also will be teeming with action as Washington policymakers look to put President Donald Trump's agenda into action.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes to the White House on Tuesday to talk turkey with Trump.

In addition to the Fed meeting starting, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon will be in town Tuesday to hold a teleconference briefing on the 2017 CEO Economic Outlook Survey. This should provide a good glimpse at just how high optimism is running among America's captains of industry.

A day later, Trump will head to the heartland for a rally in Nashville, Tennessee. It's also the same day the debt ceiling expires, though there appear to be few obstacles to getting America's borrowing limit approved. (Data point: The U.S. closed the week with a global tab of $19.9 trillion, of which $14.4 trillion is the public's share.)

There's some chatter that on Thursday, Trump may release his full budget proposal, which kickstarts what ought to be a contentious process. Trump already has outlined some of his plans; this would get more detailed.

The market's been dying to find out specifics on what Trump wants to do. Looks like this week will provide some answers.