Reports on retail sales and housing starts in March highlight the economic calendar next week, April 16-20. Economists will be watching for any lingering signs of a positive boost from the recent warm weather, as well as indications of whether the strength in consumer demand continues in the face of slower employment growth and weak personal-income data.

With the next policy-setting meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, scheduled for April 24-25, the calendar of Federal Reserve speakers is relatively light. Meanwhile, the focus in Europe next week will be on the Spanish auction of debt on Thursday, as well as the French election on Sunday (April 22).

Below are entries on the economic calendar, where all listed times are Eastern Daylight Time:


8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales for March. Economists expect the headline figure to advance 0.3 percent after a 1.1 percent increase in February. Although prices have been firm, auto sales weakened last month, which should act as a drag. Excluding autos, retail sales should increase 0.6 percent. Gasoline prices have continued to rise over March.

8:30 a.m. -- The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's general business conditions index is expected to moderately slip to 18.0 in April from 20.2 in March, following six straight months of gains.

9 a.m. -- February net long-term Treasury International Capital flows and foreign buying of U.S. Treasury bonds.

10 a.m. -- National Association of Home Builders housing market index.

10 a.m. -- April business inventories.

12:30 p.m. -- Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Sandra Pianalto (an FOMC voter this year) speaks on Banking and Economic Outlook before the A Day With the Commissioner event in Lexington, Ky.

3:30 p.m. -- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard (an FOMC nonvoter this year) speaks on The U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy at the George Eccles Memorial Lecture at Utah State University's Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.


U.K. -- Consumer confidence index.

Euro zone -- February trade balance.


8:30 a.m. -- Housing starts are likely to increase to 705,000 in March from 698,000 in February. Building permits were up in February, which should translate into more housing starts. Because of the pickup in permits, economists expect single-family construction to edge higher, after falling nearly 10 percent in February. However, the underlying momentum in starts has come from multifamily construction, a trend that is expected to continue.

9:15 a.m. -- Industrial production is expected to expand 0.3 percent in March after coming in flat in February, taking the capacity utilization rate to 78.6 percent.


U.K. - March consumer price index.

Euro zone -- March Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices .

Germany -- Center for European Economic Research's current situation survey for April.


7 a.m. -- Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage index for the week ending April 14.

10:30 a.m. - Crude inventories for the week ending April 14.


Japan -- March trade balance.

Euro zone -- European Central Bank current account for February.

U.K. -- March unemployment claimant count, International Labor Organization (ILO) unemployment rate, and average weekly earnings.


8:30 a.m. -- Initial jobless claims for the week ending April 14 are expected to drop to 370,000 from 380,000. Note that this claims report runs the same week the payroll survey is conducted.

10 a.m. -- Existing-home sales likely rose to 4.62 million in March from 4.59 million in February.

10 a.m. -- The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, or Philly Fed, index of current activity is expected to drop to 12.0 in April from 12.5 in March. That is consistent with a moderating pace of economic activity.

10 a.m. -- The Conference Board's leading economic index should increase 0.2 percent in March after advancing 0.7 percent in February.


9 a.m. -- Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers meet in Washington.


Germany -- March producer price index.

Germany -- Ifo business climate/current assessment/expectations survey.

U.K. -- March retail sales.

Dates and times are subject to change.

Sources: Central banks, European Commission, Reuters, Market News, Barclays Capital, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.