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The Week Ahead


Thursday, Mar. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Retail sales likely grew 0.5% in February, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. That's suggested by the healthy gains reported in weekly retail surveys. Excluding motor vehicles, retail buying likely also rose 0.5%. In January, both total retail sales and nonauto purchases increased 0.2%.UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Thursday, Mar. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New claims for state unemployment benefits probably remained below the 300,000 mark for the week ended Mar 6. Weekly filings have been less than 300,000 since the end of January. The four-week moving average is at its lowest level in a decade.EXPORT AND IMPORT PRICES

Thursday, Mar. 11, 10 a.m. EST -- Export prices in February were probably unchanged for the second month in a row. Import prices were likely flat, after a 0.2% gain in January. Oil prices declined for the month. But because of the decline in the dollar, import prices outside of petroleum have stopped falling.PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Friday, Mar. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The S&P MMS survey forecasts that producer prices of finished goods were unchanged in February after a 0.5% advance in January. Falling oil prices probably offset increases elsewhere in February. Excluding food and energy prices, the core index likely edged up 0.1% in February, reversing a 0.1% decline in January.BUSINESS INVENTORIES

Friday, Mar. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably increased 0.2% in January after showing no change in December, says the S&P MMS survey. Inventory growth slowed in the fourth quarter, subtracting one-half percentage point from real gross domestic product growth.

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