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The Week Ahead

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Monday, Oct. 7, 3 p.m.EDT -- Consumers likely borrowed $7.5 billion in new debt

in August, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS

International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Installment credit increased

by a large $7.7 billion in July, led by auto financing and revolving credit,

which includes credit cards. Economists have begun to point to high debt levels

and repayment problems as reasons for a second-half slowdown in consumer

spending. The delinquency rate on credit cards is increasing, and personal

bankruptcies are on track to total a record of more than one million this year.

Moreover, interest and principal payments on existing installment debt rose to

a high of 11.1% of disposable income in the second quarter, according to the

Federal Reserve.


Friday, Oct. 11, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The MMS median forecast expects that retail

sales increased by a solid 0.4% in August. Sales edged up by 0.2% in August and

just 0.1% in July. Economists expect that purchases of motor vehicles rose last

month after little gain in July and August. Excluding cars, store purchases

probably increased 0.3% after advancing 0.2% in August. That's indicated by

weekly surveys of department and chain stores sales. Also, the unexpected jumps

in housing starts and new-home sales suggest that purchases at building supply

and furniture stores did well.


Friday, Oct. 11, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Producer prices of finished goods likely

increased 0.2% in September, says the MMS survey. However, rising oil and food

prices could lift the increase a bit higher. Excluding the energy and food

sectors, core prices probably grew 0.2% last month. In August, overall prices

advanced 0.3%, while the core index fell 0.1%. Wholesale inflation remains

quite low, especially further back in the production process. Core prices of

intermediate supplies and raw materials in August were lower than they were a

year earlier.

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