The Fed did not change its policy or guidance at last week’s meeting.

The data being released for February is much slower than the very strong data from January and is below expectations. It is clear the winter storms that swept through much of the country during February had a much larger impact on economic activity than expected. The storms affected the supply of parts for assembly and the movement of commodities. They caused disruptions in manufacturing with factories shut down for as much as a week. These issues were clear with the release of retail sales and housing starts last week. Retail sales dropped by 3.0% in February following the upwardly revised surge of 7.6% in January. Excluding autos, sales declined 2.7%.