PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely rose a small 0.2% in September, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill Cos. If so, that would be the first increase in prices since May. August producer prices fell 0.1%. And over the past year, the PPI was up only 1.2%. The forecast expects that core producer prices, which exclude food and energy, also rose 0.2% last month, after rising 0.1% in August. Producer inflation may have been even weaker in September, though. The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of prices paid by its members for supplies and materials fell to its lowest level in nearly three years in September. RETAIL SALES Friday, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales probably increased 0.4% in September, forecasts the MMS survey. That's suggested by the rise in weekly sales at department and chain stores reported by the Johnson Redbook Service, a unit of brokerage firm Lynch, Jones & Ryan Inc. Excluding cars, store receipts likely advanced 0.5% last month. In August, strong car sales led to a 0.6% surge in total retail buying. Nonauto sales, however, were flat. While furniture purchases were up sharply, a poor back-to-school buying season was blamed for falling receipts at clothing and department stores. And falling gasoline prices held down gas station revenues. CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Friday, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS forecast calls for a 0.2% rise in September consumer prices. Prices in August increased just 0.1% as falling energy prices offset price hikes in meats and tobacco products. Excluding food and energy, core consumer prices likely increased by 0.2% in September, the same increase posted in each of the previous four months. After showing signs of growing above 3% in early 1995, consumer inflation has slipped back down to a 2.6% yearly pace.
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