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Week Ahead: Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment

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Slim pickings for next week’s light economic calendar with the highlights being a report on retail sales on one on consumer sentiment.

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Retail sales in January are expected to have ticked higher primarily because consumers have more money in the wallets as a result of cheaper gas. Oil prices have plunged more than 60% since mid-2014 and that has translated to dramatic declines in the price of a gallon of gas.

In addition, the winter weather so far in 2015 hasn’t been as extreme as it was a year ago, which should boost this year’s retail sales figures above those from a year ago.

The retail sales report is out Thursday.

A report on consumer sentiment is out next Friday and that data should reflect optimism prompted by a strengthening U.S. labor market. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point in six years and the economy is adding well over 200,000 jobs each month. The January jobs report, released today, showed that 257,000 jobs were created in January.

A report on import and export prices, a key gauge of inflation, will be released on Friday. Economists are hoping inflation is  moving higher toward the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate, which is generally seen as a sign of a healthy, growing economy.

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The National Federation of Independent Business will release its Small Business Optimism Index on Tuesday.

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