INSTALLMENT CREDIT Wednesday, June 7 -- Consumers probably added about $7.5 billion to their debt loads in April. That's suggested by the small increase in retail sales for the month. In March, debt exploded by $13.8 billion, the biggest advance in seven months. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, led the gain, increasing by $6.7 billion in March. Installment debt outstanding in March amounted to 18.1% of disposable income, near the rate of the highly leveraged late 1980s. Because the Federal Reserve does not report how much of the net credit rise comes from increased borrowing and how much reflects smaller debt repayments, it is difficult to tell if the recent debt bulges indicate greater use of credit cards for convenience, or, alternatively, if households are struggling to make the monthly payments on old borrowing. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, June 8, 8:30 a.m. -- New filings for unemployment benefits probably fell back for the week ended June 3, to about 330,000. Claims surged unexpectedly from the end of April through all of May. In the week of May 20, claims stood at 380,000. On a four-week moving average, filings were running at their fastest pace in 21/2 years. For the forecast week, the number is expected to fall, because state offices were closed for Memorial Day. Despite a growing economy and booming profits, companies continue to pare their payrolls. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Friday, June 9, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices for finished goods probably increased by a modest 0.3% in May, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Prices jumped 0.5% in April, because of rising energy prices. Excluding food and energy, core prices probably rose 0.3% in May, the same as in April. Despite recent runups in commodity prices, inflation at the producer level remains tame. Total prices are up just 2.2% over the past year, and the core rate is running below 2%.
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