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Hurricane Harvey was probably bad news for industrial production and consumer data

Key Points
  • Hurricane Harvey could have made a dent in industrial production due to the shutdown of refiners in its path and the reduced utility use in storm-ravaged areas.
  • In addition to industrial production, retail sales is reported Friday and is expected to show just a small gain of 0.2 percent.
  • Consumer sentiment is released at 10 a.m., and it could also have been affected by Harvey.
A refinery is seen during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Deer Park, Texas.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The ill effects of Hurricane Harvey could show up in industrial production and in consumer data Friday.

Industrial production, reported at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to take a hit due to the shutdown of refineries in Harvey's path along the Gulf Coast and also a decline in utilities usage, with downed power lines and flooded areas. Economists expect to see a gain of 0.1 percent, compared to 0.2 percent in July, and the number could be weak in September with the added impact of Hurricane Irma.

More than 25 percent of U.S. refining capacity was affected by Harvey, and some production remains offline this week.

Harvey's when CPI saw an unexpected jump of 0.4 percent in August. The main culprits were higher energy prices but also a jump in shelter costs, including hotels.

It's unclear how much the storms could have affected retail sales, though it may have driven consumer purchases ahead of Harvey. While consumers could have shopped for supplies ahead of Harvey, there could also be a drop-off in sales at gas stations, particularly in affected areas in Texas and Louisiana.

Retail sales for August are expected to be up 0.1 percent after a 0.6 percent gain in July. Without autos, sales are expected to be up 0.5 percent, the same as July.

"We have the headline unchanged basically, because autos are restraining overall sales. On the core, we're looking for some moderation. July was pretty solid," said Kevin Cummins, senior U.S. economist at NatWest Markets. He expects retail sales to be flat, with a modest 0.2 percent gain, without autos.

September retail sales could show more of an impact. Sales could show the impact of fewer gasoline sales and the overall slowdown in Texas and Florida markets as storms passed through.

Cummins said he expects consumer sentiment, reported at 10 a.m., to see some storm impact. The consensus is 95, and it came in at 96.8 last month.

"You could see a little more of a pullback on sentiment. We've seen in the past when the storms have been this large, you've seen a pullback in consumer confidence. It's still at very high levels," he said.

Business inventories are also reported at 10 a.m. ET.

WATCH: Hurricane Harvey heats up inflation data

Harvey heats up inflation data
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