Businessweek Archives

The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

FOMC MEETING

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.

RETAIL SALES

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%.


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