The Week Ahead
BEIGE BOOK Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2 p.m.EST -- The Federal Reserve Board will release its report on regional economic activity as seen by its district banks. The Beige Book is prepared in advance of the Fed's upcoming policy meeting on Mar. 25. Now that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has publicly wondered whether worker insecurity is beginning to fade, Fed watchers will be especially interested in Beige Book reports of regional labor shortages and wage gains. RETAIL SALES Thursday, Mar. 13, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Retail sales probably increased by a healthy 0.5% in February, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding autos, sales probably also advanced 0.5%. In January, sales were surprisingly strong: Total purchases increased 0.6%, while non-auto buying was up 0.4%. BUSINESS INVENTORIES Friday, Mar. 14, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers likely rose 0.2% in January, says the MMS report. That follows a 0.1% decline in December. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX Friday, Mar. 14, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Producer prices for finished goods probably rose just 0.1% in February, even after falling food and energy prices caused a 0.3% decline in the PPI in January. Excluding the food and fuel sectors, core prices likely rose 0.1% in February after no change in January. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Friday, Mar. 14, 9:15 a.m.EST -- Output at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities probably edged up 0.3% in February, after no change in January, forecasts the MMS survey. That's suggested by the increase in production reported by the National Association of Purchasing Management. Capacity utilization rates for all industry likely averaged 83.4% in February, up slightly from 83.3% in January.
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