Stocks: Economy takes center stage

Investors head into a shortened trading week, hoping a fresh batch of data on housing and manufacturing will provide clues on how the American economy is holding up.

U.S. markets will be closed Monday in honor of President’s Day.

Several key statistics on the housing market will be released throughout the week, including the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market index, housing starts, building permits and existing home sales.

In recent months, the housing market has been propped up by record low mortgage rates, lower unemployment and a rebound in home prices. These conditions are bringing in home buyers who had been waiting for house prices to hit bottom before resuming their search. Low interest rates and depressed home prices have combined to create one of the most affordable housing markets on record.


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