Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS
Tuesday, May 9, 10 a.m. -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector
probably rose very little in the first quarter. That's suggested by the slower
growth rates for economic output and total hours worked. Productivity increased
at an annual rate of 1.7% in the fourth quarter. The small gain in productivity
means that unit labor costs likely grew just a bit below the 1.7% pace of the
Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales probably rose by 0.5% in April,
according to the median forecast of MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill
Cos. Sales had been very weak in recent months, falling 1% in February and
rising 0.2% in March. The solid gain in April likely reflects a late Easter and
the receipt of tax refunds that were delayed as the government checked tax
returns for fraud.
Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely
increased 0.3% in April, after no change in prices in March. Yearly inflation
at the producer level is running at less than 2%. And the recent reports from
the National Association of Purchasing Management suggest that price hikes for
business supplies are not sticking.
Friday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS forecast projects a 0.3% increase in
consumer prices in April, slightly faster than the 0.2% rise in March. Still,
annual inflation should stay below 3%, as slower growth keeps price rises to a
minimum. April's one wild card could be higher food prices, as shortages caused
by the California floods begin to show up at the grocery store.
Friday, May 12, 10 a.m. -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and
retailers probably increased 0.5% in March, say the MMS economists. Business
stockpiles jumped 0.9% in February.