The week ahead



Experts say financial markets will likely stumble this week after elections in Greece and France cast a pall of uncertainty over Europe’s efforts to solve its debt crisis.

Greek voters on Sunday voted mostly for two parties that want to change the nation’s international bailout terms. French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who has criticized France’s austerity program and wants to encourage growth by boosting government spending.

Several economists say the results raise doubts about Europe’s ability to solve the crisis with bailouts and government cuts. They say investors might sell stocks and bonds of some European countries because of the uncertainty.


This week’s key economic data – on consumer credit, confidence and producer prices – should give context to last week’s lackluster jobs numbers, which indicated that the recovery that kicked off in the winter might be slowing.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors starts the week today with a release of data on how the amount of consumer credit changed in March. Any growth would suggest more individuals might be gearing up for larger purchases, stimulating economic activity. Analysts expect to see that consumer credit expanded by $9.7 billion in March. In February data, consumer credit grew by $8.7 billion, slower than analysts had predicted.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses on Wednesday will release the latest data from its Small Business Optimism Index, based on a survey of how small businesses feel about the state of the economy. The survey gauges plans to make new hires or increase inventory. Analysts expect the index to come in at 92.9, a slight increase from 92.5 in April.

On Thursday, the Labor Department will release new jobless claims for the previous week. The consensus forecast is that 370,000 people filed for unemployment during the period – a slight increase over the previous week.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue new data on the Producer Price Index, which measures the average change in prices of goods and services. Analysts expect the index data, which covers April, to show no change from March. However, that could still mask ups and downs in prices of specific goods.


WEDNESDAY: CSRA SHRM luncheon, speaker is Glenn Powell, director of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment at Georgia Health Sciences University; 11:45 a.m.; Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, 2 10th St.; $20 for nonmembers; (706) 722-0493, ext. 130

THURSDAY: Georgia Association of Accountants and Tax Professionals;
8 a.m.; Augusta Metro Federal Credit Union, 205 Davis Road, Augusta; $5 meal cost; (706) 650-1700