The Week Ahead

RETAIL SALES Tuesday, Aug. 13, 8:30 a.m

Retail sales probably increased a modest 0.4% in July, according to a survey of economists done by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Higher new-car purchases in July will account for much of the gain. Sales dropped 0.2% in June but had risen by 0.8% in May.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Wednesday, Aug. 14, 8:30 a.m.

Consumer prices likely edged up by just 0.2% in July, the same gain as in June. Inflation remains subdued even excluding food and energy. Such prices probably rose by 0.3% in July, following a 0.4% advance in June. Increases in the cost of housing, in particular, have retreated sharply in recent months.

HOUSING STARTS Wednesday, Aug. 14, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS economists expect housing starts to hold steady in July from June's lackluster annual rate of 1.04 million.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES Wednesday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m.

Inventories held at factories, wholesalers, and retailers probably fell by 0.3% in June, after dropping by 0.5% in May.

MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT Friday, Aug. 16, 8:30 a.m.

The foreign trade deficit likely widened slightly in June, to $4.8 billion from $4.6 billion in May. Higher oil shipments led to an increase in imports. Exports in June probably rose, after falling in May.

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Friday, Aug. 16, 9:15 a.m.

Output at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities will post a 0.3% increase for July, says the MMS consensus. The gain could be larger because of high energy demand during the hot weather last month. In June, output jumped by 0.7%, led by auto production.

CAPACITY UTILIZATION Friday, Aug. 16, 9:15 a.m.

The expected rise in output suggests that operating rates increased slightly, to 79.4% in July from 79.3% in June.

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