RETAIL SALES Thursday, Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Retail sales likely edged up 0.3% in November, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding motor vehicles, sales probably rose 0.2%. That's suggested by the weekly surveys of national retailers. November is the start of the holiday shopping season, and most economists expect yearend buying to be good, but not spectacular, in part because consumers went on a spending spree in the third quarter. In October, total retail purchases fell 0.2%, but the weakness was at car dealers. Nonauto sales rose a healthy 0.4%. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST -- New claims for state unemployment benefits likely increased to 330,000 for the week ended Dec. 6. Through the first three weeks in November, claims were running at a much lower 317,000, but new filings generally jump in the week after a holiday week, and state offices were closed on Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Producer prices of finished goods likely increased 0.1% in November, the same gain as in October, says the MMS survey. Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, core prices probably rose 0.1% last month, after no change in October. Thanks in part to falling import prices, the annual inflation rate for goods is running close to zero. BUSINESS INVENTORIES Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers likely rose a solid 0.4% in October, on top of a strong 0.7% gain in September. Business sales probably advanced just 0.2% in October, after jumping 1.3% in September. Retailers have already reported a 0.2% drop in their October sales. Even though inventories are growing, they are not rising fast enough to keep pace with the upward trend in sales.
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