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Business Week Index: The Week Ahead


Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD

INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Wednesday, June 7 -- Consumers probably added about $7.5 billion to their debt

loads in April. That's suggested by the small increase in retail sales for the

month. In March, debt exploded by $13.8 billion, the biggest advance in seven

months. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, led the gain, increasing

by $6.7 billion in March. Installment debt outstanding in March amounted to

18.1% of disposable income, near the rate of the highly leveraged late 1980s.

Because the Federal Reserve does not report how much of the net credit rise

comes from increased borrowing and how much reflects smaller debt repayments,

it is difficult to tell if the recent debt bulges indicate greater use of

credit cards for convenience, or, alternatively, if households are struggling

to make the monthly payments on old borrowing.

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Thursday, June 8, 8:30 a.m. -- New filings for unemployment benefits probably

fell back for the week ended June 3, to about 330,000. Claims surged

unexpectedly from the end of April through all of May. In the week of May 20,

claims stood at 380,000. On a four-week moving average, filings were running at

their fastest pace in 21/2 years. For the forecast week, the number is expected

to fall, because state offices were closed for Memorial Day. Despite a growing

economy and booming profits, companies continue to pare their payrolls.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Friday, June 9, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices for finished goods probably

increased by a modest 0.3% in May, according to the median forecast of

economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Prices jumped 0.5% in April, because of rising energy prices. Excluding food

and energy, core prices probably rose 0.3% in May, the same as in April.

Despite recent runups in commodity prices, inflation at the producer level

remains tame. Total prices are up just 2.2% over the past year, and the core

rate is running below 2%.


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