Figures of the Week
The Week Ahead
Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- Retail sales probably increased by a modest 0.3% in April, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding car buying, sales are also expected to rise 0.3%. In March, total store receipts grew 0.4%, but excluding cars, they shot up 1.4%. The question for economists is whether a more modest advance in April signals a lasting slowdown in consumer spending, or if the pause is only temporary.EXPORT-IMPORT PRICES
Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- With oil prices receding, total import prices likely increased a small 0.1% in April, after a 0.3% rise in March and a huge 2% gain in February. Export prices likely rose 0.2% in April, on top of a 0.4% advance in March.PRODUCER PRICE INDEX
Friday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- Producer prices of finished goods probably declined 0.2% in April, led by a drop in oil prices. Excluding food and energy, prices probably edged up 0.1% last month. In March, total producer prices jumped 1%, while core prices rose 0.1%. While finished-goods inflation remains tame, price increases are accelerating for raw materials and supplies.BUSINESS INVENTORIES
Friday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably increased 0.5% in March, the same solid gain posted in February, says the S&P MMS survey. Inventory accumulation in the first quarter was only about half what it was in the fourth quarter. Strong demand is preventing businesses from keeping much merchandise in stock.