The Week Ahead

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Tuesday, May 14, 8:30 a.m.

Consumer prices in April probably increased a mild 0.2%, according to economists polled by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International. In March, falling fuel costs caused a 0.1% drop in the overall CPI. Excluding food and energy, prices also likely rose by 0.2% last month, after increasing 0.1% in March.

RETAIL SALES Tuesday, May 14, 8:30 a.m.

Retail sales probably fell by 0.2% in April. That's suggested by a large drop in new-car buying. Store purchases had declined by 0.8% in March. Excluding cars, retail sales are expected to rise by a small 0.2% in April, after falling 0.8% in March.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Tuesday, May 14, 9:15 a.m.

MMS economists expect little change in output from the nation's factories, mines, and utilities in April. In March, production was off by 0.4%.

CAPACITY UTILIZATION Tuesday, May 14, 9:15 a.m.

Operating rates likely fell to 78.5% last month, down from 78.7% in March.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES Wednesday, May 15, 10 a.m.

Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably fell by about 0.3% in March, after a 0.2% drop in February, says the MMS consensus. That's suggested by the already reported 0.6% decline in factory stockpiles.

HOUSING STARTS Thursday, May 16, 8:30 a.m.

Housing starts likely edged up a bit in April, to an annual rate of 950,000. They had plummeted by 9.3% in March, to a 901,000 pace.

MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT Friday, May 17, 8:30 a.m.

The trade gap is expected to widen slightly in March, to $5.71 billion, up from February's $5.33 billion. Exports and imports, which both fell in February, probably rebounded in March.

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