WASHINGTON — The week will see the release of a number of new data points that should offer a better sense of how the economy held up in August.
The American consumer was clearly shaken by the debt ceiling debate and stock market volatility in early August; that has shown up in consumer confidence surveys. But was it enough to keep people away from stores? Data on August retail sales should give the answer on Wednesday.
Analysts are expecting that for all their fear, consumers did not pull back on spending in a significant way. The consensus is that retail sales rose 0.2 percent in August.
In addition, the Labor Department on Wednesday releases its index of wholesale inflation, which is expected to have ebbed in August. Overall, the producer price index is expected to have fallen 0.1 percent. Excluding food and energy, however, it is forecast to have risen 0.2 percent.
Also Wednesday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick plans a major speech in advance of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meeting that starts Sept. 23. Zoellick will discuss recent turmoil in the world economy during the 11:30 a.m. speech on the campus of George Washington University.
On Thursday, the Labor Department releases data on consumer inflation. Analysts expect the index to have risen 0.2 percent overall in August, and by the same amount when the volatile food and energy categories are excluded. This is the last major piece of data due before a Sept. 20-21 Federal Reserve Board policy meeting. If the consumer price index shows inflation pressures dissipating more than expected, it would make Fed officials more inclined to ease monetary policy; a higher-than-expected reading might give them pause as they weigh new strategies to try to boost growth.
New data on industrial production, meanwhile, is projected to show a small gain after a larger-than-expected boost in July. July’s 0.9 percent gain had been driven in large part by an unusually hot summer that had utilities going full steam to keep air conditioners running around the nation. The August number is expected to show a modest 0.1 percent rise.
Also on Thursday, the Philadelphia Fed releases its index of manufacturing activity, offering a first read on the economy in September.