Economy Week Ahead: Imports, Jobless Claims, Inflation

A man moving boxes at a business in New York City, June 4.



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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Inflation readings from China and the U.S. highlight this week’s round of economic data.

Monday

China’s imports are expected to surge in May due to rising commodity prices and the low base from a year earlier, according to 16 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The country’s imports are forecast to grow 53% from one year ago. Outbound shipments, a key engine of growth for China’s economy, are expected to rise 32.3%. The country’s trade surplus is expected to touch $47.9 billion compared with $42.9 billion in April.

Tuesday

The U.S. trade deficit hit a record in March as federal stimulus reinvigorated consumers and pushed demand for imports to a fresh high. Economists are forecasting a narrower trade gap in April, though the overall figure will likely remain elevated as the U.S. reopening gathers strength.

Wednesday

China’s factory-gate inflation is expected to hit more than a decade high in May, triggered by the rising commodity prices, according to a median forecast of 16 economists. The producer-price index is projected to climb 8.6% from a year earlier, the highest level since August 2008. Meanwhile, the consumer-price index is expected to have risen 1.5% annually in May compared with April’s 0.9% expansion.

Thursday

The European Central Bank releases a policy statement and staff forecasts. In March, the ECB pledged to accelerate purchases under a €1.85 trillion bond-buying program in an effort to hold down borrowing costs amid sluggish economic growth. Now, with Covid-19 vaccinations rising, pandemic restrictions easing, activity accelerating and inflation rising above the central bank’s target, some economists are looking for signs those purchases could soon be scaled back.

U.S. consumer prices rose in April by the most in any 12-month period since 2008, intensifying deliberations over proper levels of fiscal stimulus, monetary policy and whether surging inflation is temporary or the start of a potentially damaging price spiral. Economists expect another hefty gain for the consumer-price index in May, though a second elevated reading is unlikely to settle the debate over inflation’s medium-term trajectory.

U.S. jobless claims hit a fresh pandemic low at the end of May, adding to signs of a healing labor market. Economists are forecasting another decline in the week ending June 5 as employers hang onto workers while the economy continues to reopen.

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