The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Producer prices of finished goods were probably unchanged in December from their November level, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core prices likely edged up by 0.2%. In November, cheaper oil caused total producer prices to fall 0.2%, while core prices rose 0.1%.


Thursday, Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices for all goods and services likely increased 0.2%, while core prices, which exclude food and energy, probably rose 0.3% in December. If so, overall consumer inflation finished 1998 just under 1.7%, the smallest gain in 12 years. In November, the total CPI and the core index each rose a modest 0.2%.


Thursday, Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The S&P MMS survey forecasts a 0.4% gain in retail sales in December, following an unexpectedly large 0.6% jump in November. Excluding motor-vehicle sales, store receipts probably increased 0.3%, on top of a 0.4% gain in November. Retailers have characterized the 1998 holiday as good, but not spectacular.


Friday, Jan. 15, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Stockpiles of goods held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers probably grew 0.2% in November, a bit slower than their 0.3% advance in October.


Friday, Jan. 15, 9:15 EST -- Industrial output at factories, mines, and utilities probably rose a slim 0.1% in December, after dropping 0.3% in November. More seasonably cold weather at the end of December likely boosted energy demand, but factory output remained stagnant. Operating rates probably slipped to 80.5% last month, from 80.6% in November.

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