THE WEEK AHEAD
Monday, Aug. 16, 9:15 a.m.
Output of the nation's factories, mines, and utilities most likely posted a 0.4% increase in July. That's the median forecast from a survey of economists taken by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Record output levels at utilities, the result of the heat wave on the East Coast, accounted for much of the increase. Manufacturing production appears to have posted a gain, as well, signaled by the rise in overall factory work time in July. The rise in the workweek last month more than offset the small drop in factory employment. However, plenty of production capacity remained idle in July. The operating rate for all industry is expected to have risen to 81.3% in July from 81% in June.
Tuesday, Aug. 17, 8:30 a.m.
The MMS survey expects to see housing starts for July at an annual rate of 1.26 million, up only slightly from June's total of 1.25 million. Low mortgage rates and better job growth are helping housing, but July's heat wave and relentless rain and flooding in the Midwest undoubtedly cut into the month's starts.
MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT
Thursday, Aug. 19, 8:30 a.m.
The merchandise trade deficit probably widened to $9 billion in June, the MMS survey projects, compared with $8.4 billion in May. The survey expects a slight rise in exports and a greater, but still small, increase in imports. The export gain is based partly on the June rise in factory shipments, and a surge in U.S. customs duties in June suggests an increase in imports.
Friday, Aug. 20, 2 p.m.
The MMS economists expect a July budget deficit of $41 billion. That would be lower than last year's red ink, which totaled $43.2 billion. This would mean the budget gap for the first 10 months of the 1993 fiscal year is running nearly $30 billion below the similar 1992 total. The deficit for the full year could come in well below last year's $290 billion.JAMES C. COOPER AND KATHLEEN MADIGAN