Economic reports for the week Share This: UPI 2/18/2013 12:48:04 PM WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Stock markets took a break and there were no government economic reports Monday -- Presidents' Day. There are no major government reports scheduled for release on Tuesday, either. The National Association of Home Builders on is scheduled to release its monthly business confidence index Tuesday. The index has been trending upward for a half a year. On Wednesday, the Department of Commerce is scheduled to release its January report on housing starts. Economists have predicted a decline from an annual rate of 954,000 in December to 925,000 in January. Building permits, indicating construction starts one and two months ahead, are also expected to drop in Wednesday's report The U.S. producer price index for January is expected Wednesday. The annual rate of 1.3 percent for December is expected to rise to 1.4 percent for January. Core prices, which exclude energy and food prices, are expected to slide from 2 percent in December to 1.6 percent in January. On Thursday, Markit Economics is slated to release its February Purchasing Manager's Index, which is expected to drop slightly but still show U.S. manufacturing is growing at a slow pace. A report on the U.S. Consumer Price Index for January is expected Thursday. The annual inflation rate for core prices is expected to drop slightly in the report from 1.9 percent to 1.8 percent. Weekly jobless benefit claims that come out on Thursdays are expected to correct upward. First-time claims for state benefits tracked by the Labor Department fell sharply in the previous week. Consequently, economists expect them to rise from 341,000 to 355,000. The Conference Board's leading index on Thursday is expected to show a 0.2 percent gain in January after a 0.5 percent gain December. Existing home sales numbers on Thursday, released by the National Association of Realtors, is expected to slide from an annual rate of 4.94 million in December to 4.9 million in January.