The Week Ahead

      Monday, Sept. 9, 3 p.m.EDT -- Consumers probably took on an additional $7.3 
      billion in new debt in July, according to the median forecast of economists 
      surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Installment 
      debt had increased by a hefty $8.3 billion in June. Consumers continue their 
      love affair with credit cards despite higher delinquency rates and rising 
      Wednesday, Sept. 11, 12 noonEDT -- The Federal Reserve's report from its 
      district banks will contain anecdotal evidence of how regional economies are 
      doing. The beige book is being prepared in advance of the next monetary-policy 
      meeting, scheduled for Sept. 24. Economists will be looking for hints from the 
      Fed that the widening shortage of skilled workers is leading to higher wage 
      Thursday, Sept. 12, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The producer price index for finished goods 
      likely increased 0.2% in August, after no change in July, says the MMS report. 
      Excluding food and energy, producer prices probably also rose 0.2%, on top of a 
      small 0.1% increase in July. Fuel costs may begin to increase in later months 
      because the U.S. conflict with Iraq has pushed up crude-oil prices.
      Friday, Sept. 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Consumer prices likely rose 0.3% in August, 
      as higher food prices began to appear at the grocery store. Excluding food and 
      energy, the core CPI likely was up 0.2%. In July, both the total CPI and the 
      core rate increased 0.3%.
      Friday, Sept. 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Retail sales probably rose a solid 0.8% in 
      August. That's suggested by the gains reported by weekly surveys of chain 
      stores and the bounceback in motor vehicle sales. Excluding cars, sales likely 
      rose 0.6% last month. In July, overall retail sales edged up just 0.1%. 
      Excluding cars, they advanced a healthier 0.3%.

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