Good economic news has been greeted with the Bronx cheer lately, because of an overriding belief that zooming oil prices will spell recessionary trouble for an economy that has stalled. Gloom reigned last month, even in the face of a slight decline in wholesale prices for July.
Economists said the numbers had been overtaken by events in the Persian Gulf and that inflation was, in fact, much more worrisome. Just how much the higher petroleum bill is chewing into the economy will become clearer Friday, with the Labor Department's report on the producer price index for August.
Watch for: A 0.5 percent jump in wholesale prices for the month. If the price jump is 0.7 percent or more, the dialogue over inflation will heat up. A rise of 0.4 percent or less will be seen as a signal that the Federal Reserve can allow interest rates to creep lower.