The Week Ahead

      Thursday, Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely rose a 
      small 0.2% in September, according to the median forecast of economists 
      surveyed by MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill Cos. If so, that would be 
      the first increase in prices since May. August producer prices fell 0.1%. And 
      over the past year, the PPI was up only 1.2%. The forecast expects that core 
      producer prices, which exclude food and energy, also rose 0.2% last month, 
      after rising 0.1% in August. Producer inflation may have been even weaker in 
      September, though. The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of 
      prices paid by its members for supplies and materials fell to its lowest level 
      in nearly three years in September.
      Friday, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m. -- Retail sales probably increased 0.4% in 
      September, forecasts the MMS survey. That's suggested by the rise in weekly 
      sales at department and chain stores reported by the Johnson Redbook Service, a 
      unit of brokerage firm Lynch, Jones & Ryan Inc. Excluding cars, store receipts 
      likely advanced 0.5% last month. In August, strong car sales led to a 0.6% 
      surge in total retail buying. Nonauto sales, however, were flat. While 
      furniture purchases were up sharply, a poor back-to-school buying season was 
      blamed for falling receipts at clothing and department stores. And falling 
      gasoline prices held down gas station revenues.
      Friday, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS forecast calls for a 0.2% rise in 
      September consumer prices. Prices in August increased just 0.1% as falling 
      energy prices offset price hikes in meats and tobacco products. Excluding food 
      and energy, core consumer prices likely increased by 0.2% in September, the 
      same increase posted in each of the previous four months. After showing signs 
      of growing above 3% in early 1995, consumer inflation has slipped back down to 
      a 2.6% yearly pace.

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