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Tuesday, July 20, 8:30 a.m.

Housing starts probably edged up to an annual rate of 1.25 million in June, from 1.24 million in May, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. That's suggested by the flat reading of total hours worked in the construction industry in June. The MMS economists also forecast that building permits rose to a 1.18 million pace last month, up from 1.12 million in May. Despite the lowest mortgage rates in 21 years and extremely lean supplies of unsold houses, builders were cautious about new projects in the spring. June may be the month when starts break out of their 1.2- to-1.25 million range and post a large increase. The most optimistic MMS forecast expects that starts increased by 5%, to hit 1.3 million in June.


Thursday, July 22, 8:30 a.m.

New filings for state unemployment-insurance benefits probably increased to about 350,000 in the week ended July 17. Filings dropped to 327,000 in early July, the lowest weekly pace in five months. The forecast period, however, follows the week that includes the Fourth of July holiday, when state offices were closed, so some bounce-back is expected. Even so, claims have been heading down since the middle of June, an indication that the labor market is strengthening.


Thursday, July 22, 2 p.m.

The MMS survey forecasts that the federal government had a $9 billion surplus for June. That would be better than the $3.8 billion surplus in June, 1992, and the $2.6 billion deficit a year earlier. The June surplus would mean that, in the first nine months of fiscal 1993, the federal deficit is running about $25 billion below the same period of fiscal 1992. Higher tax revenues--a result of stronger economic growth--are bolstering Washington's finances. For the fiscal year ending in September, the deficit may well come in at less than $300 billion, and not much above last year's record $290.1 billion.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN

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