The Week Ahead
MOTOR VEHICLE SALES Monday, May 5 -- Vehicle sales likely fell to an annual rate of 13.3 million in April, from 14.7 million in March. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Car buying was strong in the first quarter, helped by warm weather and early tax refunds. Although some auto makers will report sales earlier, all companies will not have reported until this date. FACTORY INVENTORIES Tuesday, May 6, 10 a.m.EDT -- Manufacturers probably increased their inventories by 0.4% in March, the same healthy gain recorded in February. PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS Wednesday, May 7, 10 a.m.EDT -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector probably grew at an annual rate of 2% in the first quarter, after a 1.2% advance in the fourth. If so, nonfarm productivity increased 1% over the past year. Last quarter's strong output gain was mostly met by an equally robust growth in hours worked. As a result, unit labor costs likely increased by 0.5% in the first quarter, after a 2.6% advance in the fourth. The report will also include data on fourth-quarter productivity and costs in the nonfinancial sector. This data, while lagging behind the total nonfarm numbers, seem to better reflect the anecdotal reports on efficiency in this expansion. Nonfinancial-sector productivity rose 2.2% in the year ended in the third quarter. BEIGE BOOK Wednesday, May 7, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Federal Reserve Board will release its compilation of economic activity around its 12 districts. The beige book is prepared in advance of the Fed's upcoming policy meeting on May 20. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Wednesday, May 7, 3 p.m.EDT -- The MMS survey expects that consumers added $6 billion in new credit in March, only a bit less than the $6.7 billion taken on in February.
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