Business Week Index: The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, May 9, 10 a.m. -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector 
      probably rose very little in the first quarter. That's suggested by the slower 
      growth rates for economic output and total hours worked. Productivity increased 
      at an annual rate of 1.7% in the fourth quarter. The small gain in productivity 
      means that unit labor costs likely grew just a bit below the 1.7% pace of the 
      fourth quarter.
      Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales probably rose by 0.5% in April, 
      according to the median forecast of MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill 
      Cos. Sales had been very weak in recent months, falling 1% in February and 
      rising 0.2% in March. The solid gain in April likely reflects a late Easter and 
      the receipt of tax refunds that were delayed as the government checked tax 
      returns for fraud.
      Thursday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely 
      increased 0.3% in April, after no change in prices in March. Yearly inflation 
      at the producer level is running at less than 2%. And the recent reports from 
      the National Association of Purchasing Management suggest that price hikes for 
      business supplies are not sticking.
      Friday, May 12, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS forecast projects a 0.3% increase in 
      consumer prices in April, slightly faster than the 0.2% rise in March. Still, 
      annual inflation should stay below 3%, as slower growth keeps price rises to a 
      minimum. April's one wild card could be higher food prices, as shortages caused 
      by the California floods begin to show up at the grocery store.
      Friday, May 12, 10 a.m. -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and 
      retailers probably increased 0.5% in March, say the MMS economists. Business 
      stockpiles jumped 0.9% in February.
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