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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

INSTALLMENT CREDIT Tuesday, Apr. 7

Consumers probably added about $500 million in new installment credit in February, according to economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The gain would be the first increase in credit since October and is indicated by the jump in retail sales and a small rise in personal bank loans. Revolving credit and auto financing are likely to account for the bulk of the additional debt in February.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Apr. 9, 8:30 a.m.

Producer prices of finished goods likely increased by just 0.2% in March, the same mild advance as in February, forecast the MMS economists. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, producer prices are likely to show a 0.3% advance in March, after a 0.1% rise in February. Even so, inflation remains on a steady downswing.

CAPITAL SPENDING PLANS Thursday, Apr. 9, 8:30 a.m.

The Commerce Dept's. second look at capital-spending budgets, done in January and February, probably will show that companies expect to increase spending on new plants and equipment by about 6% in 1992, a bit more than the 5.4% rise planned for this year in the October and November survey. Lower interest rates and greater signs of recovery are prompting companies to invest in plants and equipment. In 1991, such outlays fell by about 0.5%.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Friday, Apr. 10, 8:30 a.m.

Consumer prices likely rose by 0.3% in March, the same moderate increase as in February, according to the MMS survey. Excluding food and energy, the core rate of consumer inflation is expected also to have increased by 0.3% in March, but that would be a bit slower than its 0.4% advance in February. Apparel costs should fall back after rising sharply in February, but rising tobacco prices may offset some of that decline. Still, core inflation is set to grow below 4% this year--the slowest pace since 1986.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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