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Business Week Index: The Week Ahead


Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS

Tuesday, May 9, 10 a.m. -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector

probably rose very little in the first quarter. That's suggested by the slower

growth rates for economic output and total hours worked. Productivity increased

at an annual rate of 1.7% in the fourth quarter. The small gain in productivity

means that unit labor costs likely grew just a bit below the 1.7% pace of the

fourth quarter.

RETAIL SALES

Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales probably rose by 0.5% in April,

according to the median forecast of MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill

Cos. Sales had been very weak in recent months, falling 1% in February and

rising 0.2% in March. The solid gain in April likely reflects a late Easter and

the receipt of tax refunds that were delayed as the government checked tax

returns for fraud.

PRODUCER PRICES

Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely

increased 0.3% in April, after no change in prices in March. Yearly inflation

at the producer level is running at less than 2%. And the recent reports from

the National Association of Purchasing Management suggest that price hikes for

business supplies are not sticking.

CONSUMER PRICES

Friday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS forecast projects a 0.3% increase in

consumer prices in April, slightly faster than the 0.2% rise in March. Still,

annual inflation should stay below 3%, as slower growth keeps price rises to a

minimum. April's one wild card could be higher food prices, as shortages caused

by the California floods begin to show up at the grocery store.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Friday, May 12, 10 a.m. -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and

retailers probably increased 0.5% in March, say the MMS economists. Business

stockpiles jumped 0.9% in February.


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