Retail sales, inventory data lead calendar

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The flow of economic data picks up today with retails sales, business inventories, and import and export prices.

The day begins with the weekly mortgage-purchase applications at 7 a.m. ET. There are no forecasts for this report, but traders will be looking for evidence of continued momentum in the housing market's recovery.

Retail sales for February will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, with analysts estimating a reading of 0.5 percent, up from the previous month's 0.1 percent. Excluding autos, the consensus calls for 0.6 percent, up from 0.2 percent in the last report.

Import and export prices will come out at the same hour. Analysts are expecting import prices to have risen 0.6 percent in February, matching the previous month's rate. Export prices are forecast at 0.2 percent, down from the previous 0.3 percent print.

Business inventories for January follow at 10 a.m. ET. The consensus estimate is 0.5 percent, up from the previous month's 0.1 percent.

Crude-oil inventories will be reported at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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