THE WEEK AHEAD
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 8:30 a.m.
Housing starts probably increased moderately in July to an annual rate of 1.2 million, from a 1.17 million pace in June. That's the expectation of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The housing recovery, which began in early 1991, started to falter in the first half of 1992, as jobs and incomes did not grow fast enough to boost home buying. Mortgage rates fell sharply in July, however, after the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates. These cheaper rates - now at their lowest in 19 years - have probably revived the housing market somewhat in the summer. And a rise in consumer demand likely caused builders to pick up their hammers once again.
MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 8:30 a.m.
The foreign trade deficit likely narrowed in June, to about $6.5 billion, after increasing to $7.4 billion in May. The MMS economists expect that exports rose after three consecutive declines. And imports also increased in June, but by a smaller amount. Imports had fallen by 1.4% in May.
Friday, Aug. 21
The U.S. government is likely to announce a deficit of about $30 billion in July. That would be less than the $40.8 billion budget gap reported for July, 1991. Slower payments for thrift bailouts are stanching some of the red-ink flow. For all of fiscal 1992, the Treasury Dept. is expected to post a deficit of $300 billion to $315 billion.
INITIAL UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
Thursday, Aug. 20, 8:30 a.m.
New filings for state unemployment benefits likely dropped back to an annual rate of about 430,000 for the week ended Aug. 8. Claims had skyrocketed in late July as plant closings by General Motors Corp. temporarily pushed tens of thousands of auto workers onto the unemployment lines. Those layoffs boosted new claims to an annual rate of 469,000 in the week ended July 25.By James C. Cooper and Kathleen Madigan