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The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Apr. 6, 10 a.m. EDT -- The Conference Board's composite index of leading indicators probably increased 0.2% in February, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The index jumped 0.4% in January, led by large gains in stock prices and new orders for nondefense capital goods. The stock market probably contributed again to the February increase.INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Wednesday, Apr. 7, 3 p.m. EDT -- Consumers likely took on $5.5 billion more in debt than they paid off in February. That would be down sharply from the $14.7 billion accumulated in January. However, the trend in installment credit has accelerated in recent months as households keep spending at a prodigious rate.EXPORT-IMPORT PRICES

Thursday, Apr. 8, 10 a.m. EDT -- The S&P MMS survey expects that export prices were unchanged in March, after slipping 0.1% in February. Falling agricultural prices likely offset gains elsewhere. Import prices probably edged up 0.1% last month, reversing their 0.1% drop in February. Higher crude-oil prices likely boosted overall import prices, which are still below their year-ago levels. The renewed strength in the U.S. dollar should help keep import prices down in coming months.PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

Friday, Apr. 9, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- According to the S&P MMS median forecast, producer prices for finished goods probably increased a small 0.2% in March, after they fell a larger-than-expected 0.4% in February. Higher oil prices will likely lead the March gain. Excluding food and energy prices, core producer costs likely rose just 0.1% in March, after showing no change in February. Pricing power at the wholesale level is nonexistent. Falling commodity prices and lower imported goods prices are keeping inflation at bay in the U.S.

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