The Week Ahead


Wednesday, Mar. 6, 10 a.m. EST -- Manufacturing inventories are forecast to have fallen 0.5% in January, due largely to a decline in durable goods inventories. In December, inventories fell for an eleventh consecutive month, by 0.6%.


Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2 p.m. EST -- The Federal Reserve Bank will release its collection of regional economic activity in advance of the policy meeting scheduled for Mar. 19.


Thursday, Mar. 7, 3 p.m. EST -- Consumers probably added $2.5 billion of debt in January, based on the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. In December, consumers lowered their level of debt by $5.1 billion, the largest decline since December, 1990, led by an $8.1 billion reduction in revolving debt.


Friday, Mar. 8, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Nonfarm payrolls in February probably increased for the first time since July, 2001. The S&P MMS consensus is for a gain of 15,000 jobs. In January, employment fell by 89,000 jobs. Manufacturers, however, very likely cut an additional 40,000 positions in February, after laying off 89,000 in January. The unemployment rate probably climbed back to 5.8%, after slipping to 5.6% in January. But the average workweek is forecast to have increased to 43.1 hours, from 43 hours in January. Overall, the labor market may have bottomed out in January.

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