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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Wednesday, May 12, 8:30 a.m.

Producer prices of finished goods likely rose by 0.2% in April, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. However, the drop in some cigarette prices may have caused a smaller increase in overall wholesale inflation than is generally expected. In March, a runup in energy costs caused producer prices to rise by 0.4%.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Thursday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.

Consumer prices likely increased by 0.3% in April, faster than their 0.1% rise in March. But like producer prices, consumer prices in April may have increased by less than is forecast because of falling tobacco prices.

RETAIL SALES

Thursday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS economists expect that retail sales bounced back by 0.9% in April, after declining 1% in March. Snowstorms hurt sales in March, while rising purchases of cars and light trucks helped in April. Even so, excluding cars, store sales probably rose 0.8% in April, after dropping 1.2% in March.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Friday, May 14, 9:15 a.m.

Industrial production probably fell by 0.1% in April, after no gain in March. That's suggested by the steep decline in the National Association of Purchasing Management's index of production in April. As a result, capacity-utilization rates for all industry likely dropped to 79.8% in April, from 79.9% in March.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Friday, May 14, 10 a.m.

The MMS survey reports that inventories held by factories, wholesalers, and retailers probably rose by 0.4% in March, with most of the buildup coming in retail. Business inventories also increased by 0.4% in February. Business sales probably advanced a small 0.1% in March, after rising 0.6% in February. A 1.1% gain in factory shipments was partially offset by a 1% drop in retail buying.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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