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This Week: Consumer prices, jobless claims, retail sales

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: INFLATION RETREATS Economists expect that a key gauge of U.S. consumer prices will show its smallest annual gain in nearly five years.

The Labor Department’s consumer price index, due out Tuesday, is projected to show an annual gain of 0.5% for April. Consumer prices fell 0.4% from February to March, the largest drop in five years, reflecting the downward pressure that the coronavirus pandemic is exerting on the cost of gasoline, airfares, hotel rooms and other goods and services.

Consumer price index, annual percent change, not seasonally adjusted: Nov. 2.1 Dec. 2.3 Jan. 2.5 Feb. 2.3 March 1.5 April (est.) 0.5 Source: FactSet SURGING NEED Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the weeks since the coronavirus shut down most of the nation’s economy.

The pandemic has sent the U.S. unemployment rate surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression. Some 33.5 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits over the past seven weeks. Economists project another 2.6 million Americans applied for jobless aid in the first full week of May. The Labor Department issues its weekly tally of applications Thursday.

Initial jobless benefit claims, weekly, seasonally adjusted: April 3: 6,615,000 April 10: 5,237,000 April 17: 4,442,000 April 24: 3,846,000 May 1: 3,169,000 May 8: (est.) 2,600,000 Source: FactSet RETAIL SLUMP

The Commerce Department reports April retail sales data on Friday. More than 60% of U.S. retailers have temporarily shuttered since March as government officials ordered businesses to close their doors. Retail sales plunged 8.4% in March. Economists expect the slide accelerated since then. They predict retail sales sank 10% in April.

Retail sales, monthly percent change, seasonally adjusted: Nov. 0.0 Dec. 0.1 Jan. 0.8 Feb. -0.4 March -8.4 April (est.) -10.0 Source: FactSet

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