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(Updated from 8:41 a.m. ET

Consumer prices rose slightly in March. The

consumer price index gained 0.1% last month, in line with expectations of economists polled by


The CPI, a key inflation gauge, measures the change in cost of a representative basket of goods and services such as food, energy, housing and transportation. Today's report confirms that inflation is not a problem during the current economic slowdown.

Real earnings rose 0.7% last month, higher than expected. But this figure doesn't move markets because it combines statistics contained in the previously released employment report and the current CPI report.

Housing starts were weaker than expected last month, rising 1.613 million, compared to the 1.621 million starts that were expected. There were 1.615 million new building permits. Economists have been expecting the housing sector to be a bit softer. The past three months have been pretty strong overall for housing starts, stronger than the second half of 2000.

Industrial production rose 0.4%, the government said this morning. It was expected to fall 0.1%. Excluding cars and parts, industrial output in March was unchanged compared to February. It measures the change in production levels at factories, utilities and mines nationwide. Both indicators should have a significant impact on today's market and will be watched closely by

the Federal Reserve.

Interest rates move in anticipation of where the bond market believes interest rates are headed -- and in reaction to the state of the economy. The yield curve -- the difference in yield between specific Treasury securities -- is now signaling that an economic recovery is on the way. One of the key measures of the yield curve, the comparison between the three-month bill and the 10-year note, reverted to a more normal slope four months ago. In the past week or so, the short end of the curve -- that is, the difference between the three-month bill and the two-year note -- has also reverted to a normal slope.'s

David Gaffen

writes that according to economists, this portends a recovery for the economy, which will come back to a period of growth

a few quarters down the road.

Economic Data


Forecasts are from


. Times are Eastern. For a longer-term economic calendar and more, see's

Economic Databank.


  • 8:30 a.m.: Consumer price index for March. Source: Labor Department. Actual: 0.1%. Forecast: +0.1%. Previous: +0.3%. Ex-food and energy: Actual: 0.2%. Forecast: +0.2%. Previous: +0.3%.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Housing starts for March. Source: Census Bureau. Actual: 1.613M. Forecast: 1.621M. Previous: 1.634M (revised). Building permits: Actual: 1.615M. Forecast: n.a. Previous: 1.675M.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Real earnings for March. Source: Labor Department. Actual: 0.7%. Forecast: n.a. Previous: +0.1% (revised).