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Business Week Index: The Week Ahead


Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

PRODUCTIVITY & COSTS

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m. -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector

probably was unchanged or fell slightly in the fourth quarter. Although

economic output seems to have grown robustly, so did total hours worked as

indicated by surging job growth and the longer workweek. The expected weakness

at yearend means that productivity grew by about 2% in 1994 after a 1.5%

increase in 1993. In the factory sector, productivity is still going strong,

with a likely advance of about 1.5%, at an annual rate, in the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter, nonfarm productivity grew 3.1%, with manufacturing

increasing 3.5%. Unit labor costs in the nonfarm sector probably rose at an

annual rate of about 3% last quarter, after no change in the third period, but

factory unit costs most likely slid for the fifth consecutive quarter. The

slack showing of productivity at the end of 1994 will rev up the debate over

the structural uptrend in productivity in the U.S.

INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Tuesday, Feb. 7 -- Consumers probably added about $10.5 billion in new debt in

December, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS

International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The expected increase would be a

bit below the $11.6 billion in October and $12.9 billion in November. The hefty

accumulation of new borrowing suggests that the holiday shopping season was

significantly financed by credit cards.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Friday, Feb. 10, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods probably

increased by 0.4% in January, says the MMS forecast. Most likely, suppliers

used the first of the year to pass along price markups. Excluding food and

energy, core prices likely also increased by 0.4% in January. In December, both

the total PPI and the core index edged up only 0.2%. However, the Labor Dept.

is scheduled to release new seasonal factors to the PPI data that may change

the December increases.


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