The Week Ahead

Due to the prolonged Washington shutdown, all government release data are 
      certain to be postponed.
      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.
      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%.
      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.
      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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