The Week Ahead
CONSUMER PRICE INDEX Tuesday, Jan. 13, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices for all goods and services likely increased 0.1% in December, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding food and energy, core prices likely edged up 0.2% last month. In November, both total prices and core prices rose a mere 0.1%. The inflation rate is set to end 1997 below 2%, thanks in large part to falling prices for imports. RETAIL SALES Wednesday, Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The median MMS forecast expects that retailers had a good but not great holiday season. December retail sales likely rose 0.4%, after a 0.2% gain in November. Excluding motor-vehicle sales, store receipts likely rose 0.3% in December, on top of a 0.2% advance in November. After their spending surged at a 5.6% annual rate in the third quarter, consumers slacked off a bit in the fourth. Still, real consumer spending likely grew by 2.5%, with outlays for services growing at a 4% clip. BUSINESS INVENTORIES Thursday, Jan. 15, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Inventories held at manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers likely grew 0.3% in November, after a 0.4% rise in October. Factories have already reported a 0.3% increase in their stock levels for the month. Business sales likely rose 0.4% in November, after slipping 0.1% in October. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Friday, Jan. 16, 9:15 a.m. EST -- The MMS survey calls for a 0.3% rise in industrial output in December, much less than the 0.8% increase in November. However, railcar shortages delayed delivery of supplies to some producers. But even with the smaller increase last month, output likely grew at an annual rate of 6.4% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 6.1% rate in the third. The average operating rate for all industry probably rose to 83.4% in December, from 83.2% in November.
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