Despite news of somewhat disappointing March sales at the nation’s retailers, and some sobering comments from the minutes of the March 17-18 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, financial markets generally found comfort in last week’s batch of economic data. Looking ahead to this week, financial markets will digest data on retail sales, consumer prices, producer prices, industrial production, and housing starts for March, as well as the usual array of more timely weekly data on the economy that are part of our Crisis Conditions Index (CCI). On balance, the economic data is likely to take a backseat to the flood of Q1 2009 earnings reports (and more importantly guidance on earnings and dividends for Q2 2009 and beyond) due out this week from S & P 500 companies.

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