The Week Ahead
FACTORY INVENTORIES Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m.EST -- Manufacturers probably increased their inventories by about 0.5% in November, bigger than the 0.3% gain added in October. Factory output jumped in November, and some of those goods were added to stockpiles. Factory orders probably fell slightly, after rising 0.9% in October. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Wednesday, Jan. 8, 3 p.m.EST -- Consumers probably borrowed $3.3 billion more than they paid off in November, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Sales of motor vehicles rose modestly in November, and other retail buying increased. In October, installment credit grew by just $2.3 billion. Concerns about the high levels of household debt have raised questions about consumer spending in the first half of 1997. However, the delinquency rate on credit cards fell in the third quarter of 1996, the first decline in two years. That's a sign that debt levels are still manageable. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Thursday, Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The MMS survey expects that producer prices of finished goods rose 0.2% in December, after rising energy prices led the 0.4% jump in November. Excluding food and energy, prices also likely increased 0.2%, after a 0.1% rise in November. Yearly price increases at the wholesale level are starting to keep pace with consumer inflation, but at about 3%, both inflation rates are modest. EMPLOYMENT Friday, Jan. 10, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The MMS median forecast calls for a 155,000 gain in nonfarm payrolls in December. That's higher than the 118,000 jobs added in November. Retail jobs likely led the gains in the private sector. And after two monthly declines, government jobs probably bounced back. The unemployment rate likely edged back down to 5.3% in December, after rising to 5.4% in November.
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