There’s little doubt the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week for the first time this year. But economists will scour the Fed’s post-meeting statement for clues on whether policymakers foresee a faster pace of hikes in coming years in light of some signs pointing to higher inflation ahead. The week also features the latest reports on inflation, retail sales and industrial production.
Retail sales broke out of a mini-slump with a vengeance in October, with both overall and core readings climbing 0.8%. Consumers are on solid footing as a result of steady job and income growth, cheap gasoline and reduced debt. But sales likely moderated in November after the prior booming gains, says Nomura economist Lewis Alexander. Economists estimate the Commerce Department will report Wednesday that overall sales rose 0.3% last month while the core measure — which excludes volatile categories such as autos, gasoline and building materials – increased a still-healthy 0.5%.