Stocks: Fed and 3 things to watch this week

Click the chart for more stock market data.

All eyes will be on the Federal Reserve this week, as investors await clarity on what the central bank will do next.

The Fed has a policy meeting, and chairman Ben Bernanke will speak at a press conference on Wednesday.

The remarks are being closely watched since it's been a bumpy ride for markets after Bernanke last month said the Fed may start slowing its stimulus program in just a "few meetings."

Related: Fear & Green Index

The confusion over how Bernanke defines "few" has led to turmoil in the markets, pushing the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield to grind higher.

While investors will be parsing each word to come out of Bernanke's mouth, most economists do not expect any major change in policy to be announced.

CNNMoney asked 39 economists and investment strategist for their predictions about what the Fed will do next, and nearly two-thirds said they don't think the Fed will slow its monthly asset purchases until at least December. Some even believed the Fed's so-called "tapering" may not begin until 2014.

Besides the Fed, investors will also be closely monitoring the health of the U.S. economy with data from three key areas throughout the week:

- Housing: Housing starts and building permits will be released on Tuesday, followed by existing home sales and the MBA mortgage index through Thursday.

- Manufacturing: Empire manufacturing comes on Monday, followed by crude inventories on Wednesday.

- Jobs: Initial claims will be released on Thursday.

Last week, all three indexes ended lower. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq fell more than 1%, while the S&P 500 declined 0.9%.

CNNMoney Sponsors