Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
Monday, Apr. 7, 3 p.m.EDT -- Consumers likely added $7 billion in credit in
February, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS
International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. After borrowing slowed in late
1996, credit use has bounced back. In January, credit increased by $8.4
billion. Revolving debt alone, which includes credit cards, surged by $7.9
billion, rising at its fastest pace in more than a year. The advance reflects
the rebound in consumer spending.
Thursday, Apr. 10, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New claims for state unemployment benefits
probably stood at 320,000 for the week ended Apr. 5. Jobless claims have
dropped sharply since the end of 1996, evidence of the greater availability of
jobs. In the middle of March, the four-week moving average stood at 311,000,
the lowest reading in this expansion.
PRODUCER PRICE INDEX
Friday, Apr. 11, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The MMS median forecast expects that producer
prices of finished goods were unchanged in March. If so, it is just another
sign that wholesale inflation is nonexistent: The PPI dropped 0.3% in January
and 0.4% in February. Falling food and energy prices contributed to the
declines. Excluding food and energy, core prices probably edged up just 0.1% in
March, after slipping by 0.1% in February.
Friday, Apr. 11, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Retail sales likely rose a healthy 0.5% in
March. That would follow sales jumps of 1.5% in January and 0.8% in February.
Given the retailing data, real consumer spending probably grew at an annual
rate of close to 5% in the first quarter. The March gain is suggested by
increases in the BTM/Schroders chain-store sales index and the weekly survey
done by LJR Redbook Research. In addition, an early Easter probably pulled
apparel sales forward from April into March.