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The Week Ahead

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Thursday, Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Retail sales likely edged up 0.3% in

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

International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding motor vehicles,

sales probably rose 0.2%. That's suggested by the weekly surveys of national

retailers. November is the start of the holiday shopping season, and most

economists expect yearend buying to be good, but not spectacular, in part

because consumers went on a spending spree in the third quarter. In October,

total retail purchases fell 0.2%, but the weakness was at car dealers. Nonauto

sales rose a healthy 0.4%.


Thursday, Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New claims for state unemployment benefits

likely increased to 330,000 for the week ended Dec. 6. Through the first three

weeks in November, claims were running at a much lower 317,000, but new filings

generally jump in the week after a holiday week, and state offices were closed

on Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving.


Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Producer prices of finished goods likely

increased 0.1% in November, the same gain as in October, says the MMS survey.

Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, core prices probably rose 0.1%

last month, after no change in October. Thanks in part to falling import

prices, the annual inflation rate for goods is running close to zero.


Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers,

wholesalers, and retailers likely rose a solid 0.4% in October, on top of a

strong 0.7% gain in September. Business sales probably advanced just 0.2% in

October, after jumping 1.3% in September. Retailers have already reported a

0.2% drop in their October sales. Even though inventories are growing, they are

not rising fast enough to keep pace with the upward trend in sales.

The Good Business Issue
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