The Week Ahead

CAPITAL SPENDING Wednesday, Apr. 10, 8:30 a.m.

Nonfarm businesses probably have rethought their 1991 plans for plant and equipment spending. When the Commerce Dept. last surveyed companies in the fourth quarter, they expected to increase capital budgets by just 2.4% this year, with most of the outlays concentrated in the first half. But the latest survey, taken in January and February, will probably show that the recession and the gulf war have led many businesses to scale down or postpone their capital investment plans. These cuts could mean that capital spending may decline for all of 1991, after accounting for price changes. In 1990, spending was slated to rise 5.2%, or 4.1% after inflation adjustments.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Apr. 11, 8:30 a.m.

Producer prices for finished goods were likely unchanged in March, after falling by 0.6% in February, say economists surveyed by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International. Economists forecast that prices, excluding the volatile food and energy components, rose 0.2% in March, slower than February's 0.4% pace.

RETAIL SALES Thursday, Apr. 11, 8:30 a.m.

Retail sales were probably up by just 0.2% in March, say MMS economists, after rising 0.8% in February. Car sales were weak in March, but an early Easter may have boosted clothing and department store receipts.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Friday, Apr. 12, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS consensus expects a mild 0.2% gain in the CPI in March, the same increase as in February. Prices, excluding food and energy, probably rose 0.3% last month, after a 0.7% jump in February.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES Friday, Apr. 12, 10 a.m.

Inventories at manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers likely increased by 0.1% in February, after a 0.4% rise in January. Factories have already reported no change in their stockpiles.

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