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The Week Ahead


Business Outlook

THE WEEK AHEAD

RETAIL SALES

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 8:30 a.m.

Retail sales were probably unchanged in August, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Sales rose just 0.1% in July. Excluding weak car buying, though, August store receipts likely rose a healthier 0.3%, on top of a 0.4% gain in July.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 8:30 a.m.

Consumer prices likely edged up by 0.2% in August, after a 0.1% increase in July. Excluding food and energy, prices probably rose 0.3%, on top mf a 0.1% rise in July. Housing costs likely rebounded last month, after registering no change in July. Apparel prices may have spiked higher because of the introduction of back-to-school clothing in August.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 10 a.m.

Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably added little to their inventories in July, after a 0.2% gain in June. Factories have already reported no change in their stock levels for July. Business sales probably fell 1.5% in July, after rising 0.2% in June.

MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT

Thursday, Sept. 16, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS forecast calls for the trade deficit to come down only slightly, to $11 billion in July, from June's shockingly large $12.1 billion. Exports are expected to increase after falling 3.3% in June. Imports, which soared 5.3% in June, were probably flat in July. The large trade gap forecast for July means that foreign trade remains a problem for the U.S. economy.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Thursday, Sept. 16, 9:15 a.m.

Industrial output probably rose 0.4% in August, after advancing 0.3% in July. Despite factory job losses, record overtime suggests the manufacturing sector was busy. Also, auto makers revved up production schedules for August. Operating rates last month likely rose to 81.7%, from 81.5% in July.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN


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