The Week Ahead
Due to the prolonged Washington shutdown, all government release data are certain to be postponed. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Monday, Jan. 8, 3 p.m. -- Consumers probably added $8.8 billion in installment credit in November, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Household debt exploded in 1995, with more than $100 billion in new borrowings. Much of that was in credit-card debt. In October, debt increased $10.6 billion and credit outstanding probably hit a record high of 18.9% of disposable income, even before the holiday buying season. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Jan. 11, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods likely rose by 0.4% in December, because of rising fuel prices. Excluding volatile food and energy, producer prices likely rose a smaller 0.2%. In November, total prices surged 0.5% because of a large gain in the seasonal adjusted price of new cars. Without food and energy, the increase was 0.4%. RETAIL SALES Friday, Jan. 12, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS survey forecasts that retail sales increased by about 0.2% in December, following a 0.8% jump in November. The smaller increase is suggested by the flimsy sales reported by chain stores and lackluster buying of motor vehicles. Excluding cars, retail buying probably also rose 0.2% last month, after a 0.9% gain in November. CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Friday, Jan. 12, 8:30 a.m. -- Consumer prices likely advanced by 0.3% in December, says the MMS report. Most of the increase will be in service prices, because cold weather increased energy use. Weak retailing reports suggest that goods prices remained modest. In November, analysts were surprised when consumer prices were unchanged. Excluding food and energy, the core CPI likely rose 0.2% in December, after a 0.1% rise in November.
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