The Week Ahead


Wednesday, Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Producer prices of finished goods likely increased by 0.3% in November, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill Companies. Producer prices were up a rapid 0.4% in October, boosted by a 1.9% jump in energy prices and a 0.8% increase in food costs. Excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, core producer prices likely increased by 0.2% in November, after dropping 0.3% in October. Inflation at the wholesale level remains quite benign, with core prices up by less than 1% from a year ago. Further back in the production process, the core prices of intermediate supplies and raw materials have actually fallen over the past year.


Thursday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Retail sales probably increased 0.4% in November, says the MMS report. That follows a weak 0.2% gain in October. Weekly retail surveys, however, suggest the gain could be lower, partly reflecting five fewer holiday shopping days this year. Sales of cars and light trucks were sluggish. Excluding cars, store receipts probably increased 0.5% in November, on top of a 0.4% advance in October. Retail sales were disappointing in the third quarter, but consumers appear to be increasing spending again.


Thursday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Consumer prices likely increased by 0.3% in November, led by gains in food and energy. Excluding those sectors, core prices probably increased 0.2% last month. In October, the total CPI increased by 0.3%, while the core was up 0.2%.


Friday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m.EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably increased a slim 0.2% in October, forecasts the MMS report. Inventories edged up 0.1% in September, as businesses slowed the growth in their stock levels over the course of the third quarter.

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