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     WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are highlights of forecasts for   
upcoming U.S. economic indicators provided by participants in the MNI   
weekly survey. The comment section presents the key elements behind the 
median forecasts.                                                    
Weekly Jobless Claims for December 9 week                               
 Thursday, December 14 at 8:30 a.m. ET                    Actual:       
                 Median         Range                Dec09  Dec02  Nov25
 Weekly Claims     239k      225k to 240k               --   236k   238k
     Comments: The level of initial jobless claims is expected to rise  
by 3,000 to 239,000 in the December 9 week after a decrease of 2,000 in 
the previous week. The four-week moving average would fall by 3,250 in  
the coming week as the 252,000 level in the November 11 week drops out  
of the calculation, assuming the MNI forecast is correct and there are  
no revisions.                                                           
Retail and Food Sales for November (percent change)                     
 Thursday, December 14 at 8:30 a.m. ET                   Actual:        
               Median         Range                  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
 Retail Sales   +0.3%      +0.1% to +0.5%               --  +0.2%  +1.9%
 Ex-Mtr Veh     +0.7%      +0.3% to +0.9%               --  +0.1%  +1.2%
     Comments: Retail sales are forecast to rise by 0.3% in November    
after a modest 0.2% increase in October. Seasonally adjusted industry   
motor vehicle sales slowed in November, but AAA reported that gasoline  
prices rebounded in mid-November from one month earlier. As a result,   
retail sales are expected to surge 0.7% excluding motor vehicles after  
October's 0.1% gain.                                                    
Business Inventories for October (percent change)                       
 Thursday, December 14 at 10:00 a.m. ET                  Actual:        
              Median           Range                 Oct17  Sep17  Aug17
 Inventories   -0.1%      -0.1% to +0.2%                --   Flat  +0.6%
     Comments: Business inventories are expected to fall 0.1% in        
October. Factory inventories were already reported as up 0.2% in the    
month, while wholesale inventories fell 0.5% and the advance report     
pointed to a 0.1% decline for retail inventories. Taken together, an MNI
calculation looks for a 0.1% decline for business inventories, so the   
median forecast implies analysts expect retail inventories to be        
unrevised. As for sales, factory shipments were up 0.6% and wholesale   
sales rose by 0.7%, while retail trade sales increased by 0.2% in the   
advance retail sales report. An MNI calculation looks for a 0.5%        
increase in business sales, barring a large revision to the retail trade
sales number.                                                           
Empire State Index for December (diffusion index)                       
 Friday, December 15 at 8:30 a.m. ET                     Actual:        
                 Median        Range                 Dec17  Nov17  Oct17
 Empire Index      17.5    14.7 to 20.0                 --   19.4   30.2
     Comments: The Empire State index is expected to fall to a reading  
of 17.5 in December from 19.4 in November.                              
Industrial Production for November (percent change)                     
 Friday, December 15 at 9:15 a.m. ET                     Actual:        
              Median          Range                  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
 Ind Prod      +0.3%       Flat to +0.8%                --  +0.9%  +0.4%
 Cap Util      77.2%      77.1% to 77.5%                --  77.0%  76.4%
     Comments: Industrial production is expected to rise 0.3% in        
November after a 0.9% surge in the previous month. Factory payrolls rose
by 31,000 in November, while auto production jobs were up 2,000 and the 
factory workweek held steady at 40.9 hours. The ISM production index    
rose to 63.9 in the current month from 61.0 in the previous month.      
Utilities production is expected to decline in the month after a 2.0%   
October gain, as the weather was warmer than normal, while mining       
production is forecast to rebound after posting a 1.3% decline due to   
increase oil and gas extraction. Capacity utilization is forecast to    
rise to 77.2% from 77.0% in October.                                    
--MNI Washington Bureau; +1 202-371-2121; email:
[TOPICS: M$U$$$]
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