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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Tuesday, May 12, 8:30 a.m.

Producer prices of finished goods likely rose by 0.3% in April, say economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Producer-price inflation remains subdued in the early months of this recovery. In March, finished-goods prices rose just 0.2% and were up a mere 0.9% from a year earlier.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Wednesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.

As with the forecast on producer prices, the MMS survey projects that consumer prices increased 0.3% in April, after a faster 0.5% gain in March. Even excluding volatile food and energy costs, prices likely rose by 0.3% in April as well. Clothing prices probably fell last month, which should offset gains elsewhere.

RETAIL SALES Wednesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.

Retail sales likely rose by 0.3% in April, say the MMS economists. However, nonauto purchases probably increased by a stronger 0.5%, because a late Easter lifted buying at apparel and department stores. In March, total retail sales fell by 0.4%, but that followed strong advances in both January and February.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES Thursday, May 14, 10 a.m.

Inventories held at factories, wholesalers, and retailers were probably flat in March, after no change in February as well. Manufacturers already have reported little change in their stock levels in March, leaving factory inventories at their lowest level in three years. Business sales probably increased by 0.5% in March, after rising 1.4% in February.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Friday, May 15, 9:15 a.m.

Industrial output likely edged up 0.3% in April, following a 0.2% rise in March. Utility use fell back after a cold March pushed up energy demand. However, factory output may have been lifted by auto output. The expected gain in production suggests that capacity-utilization rates rose to 78.2% in April, from 78.1% in March, says the MMS report.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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