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Consumer is data front and center

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Today's calendar of economic events focuses on the consumer.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales for August at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect an increase of 0.4 percent, up from a 0.2 percent gain in July. Stronger readings could boost sentiment.

Producer prices come out at the same time and are expected to increase 0.2 percent compared with a flat reading in August. Inflation hasn't been a major concern recently, so the report will probably not have a big effect on trading.

The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index for September follows at 9:55 a.m. ET. Economists expect a reading of 82, down from 82.1 in August.

Next week's agenda brings several regional Federal Reserve indexes, starting with the New York Fed's Empire index on Monday and Philadelphia's gauge on Thursday. Both are good forward-looking indicators for the economy but seldom move markets on their own.

Tuesday brings Germany's Zew survey of economic sentiment and U.S. consumer prices in the morning, plus Adobe Systems' earnings in the afternoon.

Wednesday is the busiest session, with housing starts and the Fed's monetary-policy announcement. FedEx and General Mills issue results in the morning, while Oracle follows after the closing bell.

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