The Week Ahead

      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 
      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.
      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.
      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 

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