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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

RETAIL SALES

Thursday, June 12, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Retail sales probably increased by 0.4% in

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

International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The modest increase is

suggested by a small gain in motor-vehicle buying for the month and weekly

reports from other retailers that showed a rebound in shopping. The MMS

economists expect that, excluding cars, store receipts probably rose by 0.3% in

May. In April, when individuals paid a record $134.3 billion in federal taxes,

total retail sales fell 0.3%, and nonauto buying was down 0.1%. Retail buying

accounts for about one-third of the entire economy, so a weakness in store

purchases generally suggests that the overall economy is slowing this quarter.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Friday, June 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The MMS survey expects that inventories held

by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers grew a small 0.2% in April, half

the 0.4% increase in March. But the gain could be larger because factories have

already reported a 0.6% rise in their April stock levels. Business sales likely

increased 0.5% in April, after falling 0.3% in March. That's suggested by 1.2%

jump in factory shipments. Inventories remain lean compared with sales, and

inventory building was a prime source of economic growth in the first quarter.

Businesses are probably continuing to restock goods this quarter as well.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Friday, June 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Producer prices of finished goods likely edged

up 0.1% in May, after falling energy prices led to a surprise 0.6% decline in

the April PPI. Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, core producer

prices likely increased 0.1% after slipping 0.1% in April. Further back in the

production process, core prices of intermediate materials and supplies are no

longer falling, but the cost of raw materials is still down. The yearly

inflation rate for total producer prices and core costs of finished goods stood

below 1% in April.


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