Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
Wednesday, Nov. 12 -- The Federal Reserve Board's Federal Open Market Committee
will meet to set monetary policy for the next five weeks. All 23 economists
surveyed by MMS International, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies, expect that
the policymakers will hold the bank's target for the federal funds rate steady
at 5.5%. Moreover, almost all of the forecasters believe that the tame
inflation outlook and rocky financial markets will probably keep policy
unchanged for the rest of the year. That scenario is especially likely since
the problems in Asia suggest that low U.S. prices of imported goods will
continue to offset any domestic price pressures. The Fed last hiked rates on
Mar. 25, when it lifted the federal funds rate by a quarter-point.
PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS
Thursday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m. EST -- The Labor Dept.'s preliminary reading on
productivity will likely show that output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector
grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in the third quarter. That's about the same gain
as in the second. That means that almost all of the increase in economic output
last quarter was accomplished through increased efficiency, not by expanding
total hours worked. As a result, unit labor costs probably grew only slightly
last quarter, after edging up 0.4% in the second quarter.
Friday, Nov. 14, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The MMS survey expects that retail sales
increased by 0.3% in October, the same modest gain posted in September.
Excluding cars, retail buying likely also rose by 0.3%, on top of a 0.2%
advance in September.
PRODUCER PRICE INDEX
Friday, Nov. 14, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Producer prices of finished goods probably
increased just 0.1% in October. Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors,
core producer prices were probably also up 0.1%. The September price indexes
gave the financial markets a small scare. The total index rose 0.5%, while core
prices were up 0.4%.