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Monday Business | PREVIEW / Some of the major business
and economic events scheduled for this week.

Shoppers Probably Cooled Off in April

May 08, 2000|Bloomberg News

Shoppers apparently took a break after racking up big charges on their credit cards over the Christmas holidays and into the first part of the new year. The government is expected to report Thursday that sales at U.S. retailers other than auto dealers cooled in April. Retail sales, excluding autos, probably rose 0.4% for the month after advancing 0.9% in March, analysts said. Total sales probably rose 0.5% after rising 0.2% a month earlier, analysts said. Meanwhile, prices at the wholesale level probably declined as oil prices retreated. A report Friday will likely show that prices paid in April to U.S. producers probably fell 0.2% after soaring 1% in March, analysts said. Excluding food and energy, producer prices probably rose 0.1%, the same as in March. Look for a similar pattern Wednesday in a government report on the prices of imported goods.

Though the statistics suggest five interest-rate increases by Federal Reserve policy-makers since June may be cooling the economy's growth rate and containing inflation, the central bank probably isn't about to back down--and could raise the overnight bank lending rate by a half percentage point to 6.5% on May 16. The unemployment rate, for example, slipped to 3.9% in April, a 30-year low, and labor costs rose--a combination that suggests higher consumer prices may follow. Labor costs account for roughly two-thirds of consumer prices.

Other economic reports this week:

* Wholesale inventories probably increased in March along with sales. In a report due Tuesday, inventories probably rose 0.6% for the month after climbing 0.7% in February, analysts said. Sales, meantime, were probably up 0.6% after falling 0.2%, analysts said.

* Total business inventories, a separate report set for release Friday, probably increased 0.4% in March, the same rate of increase as during February, analysts said.

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