The Week Ahead


Wednesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Retail sales probably increased by a modest 0.3% in April, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Sales slipped 0.1% in March. Excluding motor vehicles, store buying likely advanced 0.4% last month, after rising 0.1% in March.


Wednesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Producer prices of finished goods likely edged up a small 0.1% in April, after six consecutive declines. Falling energy prices caused the downtrend in the index. Excluding food and energy, core prices were likely flat, the same as in March.


Thursday, May 14, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Consumer prices for goods and services probably increased 0.2% in April, says the S&P MMS forecast. Prices were unchanged in March. Excluding food and energy, prices also likely rose 0.2%, after a 0.1% gain in March.


Thursday, May 14, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably grew 0.3% in March, after a 0.6% jump in February. Inventory accumulation was quite strong in the first quarter, even as factory output slowed. That suggests that much of the inventory buildup came from imports.


Friday, May 15, 9:15 a.m.EDT -- The S&P MMS forecast calls for a 0.3% gain in April's industrial output. Output growth slowed sharply in the first quarter, with overall industrial production rising at an annual rate of just 0.9%, after a 7.2% surge in the fourth quarter. Some of the slowdown was because the mild winter cut energy demand, but some easing reflected smaller gains in factory output. Operating rates for all industry probably averaged 82.2% in April, unchanged from the March level.

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