The Week Ahead
RETAIL SALES Wednesday, Mar. 13, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Retail buying probably rebounded by 0.5% in February, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Sales fell 0.3% in January as the blizzard cut into purchases of durable goods. Excluding autos, February sales likely rose 0.5% after no change in January. The weekly surveys done by Mitsubishi Bank/Schroder Wertheim and the Johnson Redbook Service show a rise in February retail sales. BEIGE BOOK Wednesday, Mar. 13 -- The Federal Reserve will release its roundup of business activity as reported by its 12 district banks. The beige book is prepared in advance of the Fed policy meetings. The next is scheduled for Mar. 26. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Mar. 14, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Prices of finished goods likely rose 0.2% in February, on top of a 0.3% increase in January, says the MMS report. The January gain reflected a 2.7% spike in energy prices. Excluding food and fuel, the PPI fell 0.1% in January CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Friday, Mar. 15, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The MMS median forecast expects that consumer prices of goods and services rose by 0.2% in February, after a 0.4% jump in January. Energy prices rose, and apparel prices surged by 0.7% in January. But given the intense competition within the apparel industry, that large a markup is unlikely to hold. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Friday, Mar. 15, 9:15 a.m.EST -- Output at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities likely rebounded after the blizzard. That's suggested by BUSINESS WEEK's weekly production index. The MMS median forecast calls for a 0.4% gain in output last month, after output fell 0.6% in January. As a result, operating rates likely picked up to 82.5%, from 81.9% in January.
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