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Economic data will ease back into the workweek Tuesday like much of America after the long Presidents Day weekend.

Tuesday will offer the

LJR/Redbook Research

retail sales report. Aside from that weekly staple, the U.S. government will auction $26 billion three- and six-month bills.

Friday's numbers were enough of a feast. The

Producer Price Index

surprised economists by falling 0.3%, when a 0.3% rise was expected. The core number, which excludes food and energy, held even with December at 0.1%, modestly below expectations.

Still, the chin-scratchers were wary.

"That report had better frosting than cake," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at

Nikko Securities

in New York. He compiles an index that pits the number of sectors with price increases against those with decreases. Out of the 74 groups in the index, more gained than lost. Brusca said that means the PPI number was dominated by the drastic fall in food prices, which are declining at more than a 12% annual rate.

Yet he doesn't expect the

Federal Reserve

to raise interest rates at its March meeting. "Unless we get a disastrous


number, most people aren't looking for a rate hike." Watch for the all-important CPI on Wednesday.

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Also reported Friday:

U.S. business inventories

fell 0.1% in December. Economists had been expecting a 0.2% dip.

Industrial production

was unchanged from December.

Capacity utilization

was 83.3% in January, or down 0.2% from December. The University of Michigan's mid-February

Consumer Sentiment Index

was 97.4%, even with January.

Tuesday's numbers


Treasury auctions

(1 p.m. EST): $26 billion three- and six-month bills.

LJR/Redbook Research

report (2:55 p.m. EST): Retail sales report for the week ending Feb. 15.

By Suzanne Kapner