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Fed, interest rates, housing in focus

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Today's calendar focuses on interest rates, housing, and corporate earnings.

Weekly mortgage applications at 7 a.m. ET get the ball rolling. The news could affect sentiment toward housing and financials because it may show whether a recent rise in borrowing costs has hurt demand for home loans.

June housing starts and building permits follow at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are expect an annualized reading of 958,000 on the starts and 1 million on the permits. Higher readings or lower readings could affect trading in homebuilders.

The biggest event is probably an appearance by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke before the House Committee on Financial Services at 10 a.m. ET. His testimony will be watched closely for clues about the central bank's plans to buy bonds and keep interest rates low.

The Fed will separately release its Beige Book survey of economic conditions at the same time. Thirty minutes later, weekly crude-oil inventories get announced by the Energy Department.

Corporate earnings include Bank of America, Textron, Mattel, and U.S. Bancorp before the opening bell. American Express, eBay, IBM, Select Comfort follow in the afternoon.

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