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Week ahead: retail, industrial sector and inflation

Economic data have been a little better over the past couple of weeks, reducing fears of a dip back into recession. This week's numbers could offer crucial evidence of whether the trend extends to the retail industry, industrial sector, and inflation.

Tuesday

Retail sales data for August should give an indication of whether American consumers were opening their wallets during the critical back-to-school season. Forecasters expect that the answer is yes, projecting that retail sales will have risen 0.3 percent.

Wednesday

The manufacturing sector has held up reasonably well during the summer lull in the economy, though analysts suspect the pace of increase in industrial output slowed in August.

New data from the Federal Reserve are expected to show a 0.2 percent rise in industrial production last month.

Thursday

The producer price index is expected to show continued very low wholesale inflation, forecast to rise 0.3 percent, or 0.1 percent excluding volatile food and energy prices.

Friday

In another key data point on inflation, consumer prices are projected to show the same pattern, with the overall consumer price index forecast to have risen 0.3 percent, or, excluding food and energy, 0.1 percent.

Keep an eye in particular on the year-over-year percent change in the CPI excluding food and energy, a good proxy for the rate of inflation the economy is experiencing. It is forecast to edge up to 1 percent, from 0.9 percent. Both levels are well below the 1.5 to 2 percent inflation rate that the Federal Reserve unofficially targets.

By Neil Irwin  |  September 13, 2010; 6:23 AM ET
Categories:  *Economic agenda  
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Next: Morning briefing: Mixed reaction to new banking rules

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