U.S. stocks gained in morning trading Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average leaping more than 100 points, as economists look ahead toward the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting this week. All three major indexes closed sharply lower Friday, with the blue-chip Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 index erasing all gains for the year, driven by speculation that the Fed could raise interest rates in late spring.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting kicks off Tuesday, followed by a press conference from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Economists will be looking for clues from the meeting as to when the central bank plans to hike rates. Most economists anticipate that the Fed will raise rates in mid-2015.  

In morning trading Monday, the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, climbed 101.21 points, or 0.57 percent, to 17,850.52. The S&P 500 stock index (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 12.05 points, or 0.59 percent, to 2,065.45. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 23.32 points, or 0.48 percent, to 4,895.08.

U.S. crude futures fell for a fifth straight day, tumbling to the lowest level in six years, on growing concerns that the U.S. might run out of oil storage. Meanwhile, Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, briefly dipped below $54 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, fell 1.25 percent, to $44.28 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude fell 1.19 percent, to $54.02 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

Data on Monday showed U.S. manufacturing output unexpectedly dipped in February for the third straight month, driven by declines in automobile production. Factory production fell 0.2 percent in February after declining 0.3 percent in January, the Federal Reserve said Monday. Economists had expected manufacturing output would rise 0.1 percent in February, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Meanwhile, automobile production tumbled last month, falling 3.0 percent.

Separately, the Empire State manufacturing index, which summarizes general business conditions in New York state, declined in March, falling to 6.9 from 7.8 in February, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Monday.

Economists are looking ahead to the National Association of Home Builders index for March, released Monday at 10 a.m. EDT. Confidence among homebuilders slipped last month, a worrisome sign the housing sector may continue to face headwinds this year. The index for new single-family homes fell by 2 points, to a seasonally adjusted level of 55, in February from January’s reading of 57, the National Association of Home Builders said last month. A reading over 50 means a majority of builders see conditions as generally positive.

Here's the economic calendar for the week of March 16. All listed times are EDT.


  • 8:30 a.m. -- Empire State index (March)
  • 9:15 a.m. -- Industrial production (February)
  • 9:15 a.m. -- Capacity utilization (February)
  • 10 a.m. -- Home builders' index (March)


  • Europe -- Speech from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi


  • 8:30 a.m. -- Housing starts (February)
  • 8:30 a.m. -- Building permits (February)


  • Japan -- Bank of Japan press conference from Governor Haruhiko Kuroda
  • Europe -- Consumer price index (February)
  • Germany -- ZEW Economic Sentiment Survey


  • 2 p.m. -- FOMC statement
  • 2:30 a.m. -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen press conference


  • United Kingdom -- Bank of England minutes
  • United Kingdom -- Bank of England interest rate decision
  • New Zealand -- Gross domestic product (Q4)


  • 8:30 a.m. -- Weekly jobless claims
  • 8:30 a.m. -- Current account (Q4)
  • 10 a.m. -- Philly Fed (March)
  • 10 a.m. -- Leading indicators (February)

Non U.S.:

  • Switzerland -- Interest rate decision


No major U.S. economic data scheduled.


  • Australia -- Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens Speech
  • Canada -- Consumer Price Index (February)