The Week Ahead


Tuesday, Dec. 15, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Consumer prices for all goods and services probably increased 0.2% in November, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding food and energy, core prices also are forecast to have increased 0.2%. In October, total and core prices both rose 0.2%. Low inflation has given the Federal Reserve elbow room to focus monetary policy on protecting the financial system.


Tuesday, Dec. 15, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers likely grew 0.3% in October, on top of a large 0.6% gain in September. Manufacturers have already reported a 0.6% advance in their November stock levels.


Wednesday, Dec. 16, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Housing starts probably fell to an annual rate of 1.65 million in November, down slightly from October's 1.7 million pace. Even so, housing appears to be one of the strongest sectors in the economy this quarter.


Wednesday, Dec. 16, 9:15 a.m.EST -- Output at mines, factories, and utilities probably fell 0.3% in November, says the S&P MMS median forecast, on top of a 0.1% dip in October. That's suggested by the drops in factory jobs and average workweek for the month. Consequently, operating rates likely remained at a low 80.6% last month.


Thursday, Dec. 17, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The foreign trade deficit for goods and services probably widened to $15 billion in October, from $14 billion in September. Exports probably fell back after jumping 2.3% in September, while imports likely rebounded in October from a 0.2% dip in September. Foreign trade subtracted from economic growth in the third quarter.

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