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The Week Ahead

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Tuesday, May 21 -- Members of the Federal Reserve Board's Federal Open Market

Committee will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. The federal

funds rate--the overnight borrowing rate for commercial banks--should remain at

5.25%, according to the unanimous forecast of economists surveyed by MMS

International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The Fed last cut short-term

rates on Jan. 31, when it trimmed a quarter-point off the funds rate and cut

the discount rate to 5%, from 5.25%. In announcing the January easing, the Fed

said that a "moderating economic expansion in recent months has reduced

potential inflationary pressures."


Tuesday, May 21, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Treasury Dept. will likely report a surplus

of $65.5 billion in April, says the median MMS forecast. April is tax month for

Americans, so Washington always runs a surplus, but this April's sum exceeds

the $49.7 billion of a year ago. A delay in sending out tax refunds in early

1995 cut into last April's black ink. The expected surplus puts the fiscal 1996

deficit on track to total less than $150 billion, compared with $164 billion in

fiscal 1995, which ended in September.


Thursday, May 23, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New filings for state jobless benefits likely

stood at 345,000 in the week ended May 18. That's a bit higher than the 336,000

filed in early May. Claims had jumped to more than 400,000 in the final weeks

of March because of the strike at General Motors Corp.


Friday, May 24, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers

probably slipped by 0.2% in April, says the MMS report. Orders jumped 2.5% in

March, but most of that increase came from demand from the military--especially

for aircraft. That ordering is unlikely to be repeated anytime soon. The

backlog of unfilled orders rose 1.2% in March.

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