The Week Ahead


Tuesday, May 5, 10 a.m. EDT -- The Conference Board's index of leading indicators likely rose 0.1% in March, on top of February's 0.4% gain, says the median forecast of economists polled by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.


Wednesday, May 6, 10 a.m. EDT -- The March drop in factory output suggests that inventories grew little if at all in the month. Stock levels rose 0.5% in February.


Wednesday, May 6, 2 p.m. EDT -- The Federal Reserve's roundup of regional economic activity will give anecdotal readings of local business trends, including how labor shortages are affecting wages. The Beige Book is being prepared in advance of the May 19 policy meeting.


Thursday, May 7, 10 a.m. EDT -- Output per hour worked at nonfarm businesses probably had little or no growth in the first quarter after rising at a 1.6% annual rate in the fourth. For the year, productivity would be up about 1.8%. Without efficiency gains to offset much of the rise in compensation, unit labor costs likely grew at an annual pace of 3% or so last quarter, after advancing 3.3% in the fourth quarter.


Thursday, May 7, 3 p.m. EDT -- Consumers probably took on $4 billion in new debt in March, says the S&P MMS survey, on top of the unexpectedly large addition of $7 billion in February.


Friday, May 8, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- The S&P MMS median forecast expects that 235,000 jobs were created in April, with manufacturing continuing to add workers. In March, payrolls dropped 36,000, but the low level of unemployment claims for the month suggest that the decline may be revised to show an increase. The employment rate likely remained at 4.7%.

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