The Week Ahead


Monday, July 6 Copyright Sales of cars and light trucks probably added up to an annual rate of 15.7 million for June, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Although Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Corp. will release their sales earlier in the month, the final total will not be calculated until Ford Motor Co. reports on July 6. In May, motor-vehicle sales increased 5.2% to a 16.2 million pace, thanks in part to rebates and other sales incentives. Car-buying accounted for one-quarter of the 0.4% gain in real consumer spending in May. After such a runup, June sales were expected to be softer. Plus, the ongoing strike at GM probably held back sales as dealers ran out of some of GM's more popular models.


Wednesday, July 8, 3 p.m.EDT Copyright Consumers probably added about $4 billion more in debt than they paid off in May, says the S&P MMS forecast. That's below the $5.5 billion taken on in April, and even less than the $4.7 billion averaged each month in the first quarter, when consumer spending jumped at a 6% annual rate. However, the strong showing of vehicle sales in May suggests that installment credit, which includes auto loans, may have increased more than the median forecast.


Friday, July 10, 8:30 a.m.EDT Copyright Producer prices of finished goods were probably unchanged in June, says the S&P MMS forecast. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, core producer prices most likely edged up just 0.1% last month. In May, total producer prices increased 0.2%, as did core prices. Prescription drugs posted a surprise 10.7% increase. In addition, tobacco products also were more expensive, and gas prices started to turn around in May. Food also will begin to post some steep price increases in coming months. In particular, dairy prices are rising. However, total producer prices are still below where they were a year earlier.

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