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Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
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.
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%.