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Business Outlook


LEADING INDICATORS Tuesday, Dec. 1, 8:30 a.m.

The government's composite index of leading indicators probably rose by 0.3% in October, say economists polled by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International. In both August and September, the leading indicators fell 0.3%. Fewer new jobless claims and a longer factory workweek may have turned the tide in October.

NAPM SURVEY Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.

The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of business activity probably increased to 52% in November, from 50.6% in October. The expected rise would indicate that the industrial sector is expanding once again, after problems in the early fall.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Tuesday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.

Building outlays likely rose by 0.5% in October, on top of a 1.3% gain in September. Public-works spending probably led the October increase.

NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m.

New homes sold at an annual rate of 622,000 in October, forecast the MMS economists. In September, 617,000 homes were sold. A small gain in single-family housing starts suggests that builders sold off some of their inventory of new homes in October.

FACTORY INVENTORIES Thursday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.

Manufacturing inventories likely grew a small 0.1% in October, after falling 0.3% in September. That's suggested by a pickup in factory output in the month.

EMPLOYMENT Friday, Dec. 4, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS economists expect that nonfarm payrolls increased by an unimpressive 55,000 jobs in November. Employment increased 27,000 in October but dropped by a total of 181,000 in the preceding two months. Even the most optimistic forecast expects a gain of just 150,000. The unemployment rate is projected to stay at 7.4% in November.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN

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