Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
Tuesday, Mar. 25 -- The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve
Board will meet to set monetary policy for the next six weeks. A slight
majority of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill
Companies, thinks the policymakers will keep short-term interest rates
unchanged, leaving the federal funds rate at 5.25%. However, almost all
economists surveyed by MMS expect a rate hike by the May 20 meeting, as solid
economic growth, tight labor markets, and nascent cost pressures raise
inflation prospects. The Fed has not moved rates since January, 1996, when it
cut the fed funds rate a quarter point.
EXISTING HOME SALES
Tuesday, Mar. 25, 10 a.m.EST -- Existing home sales probably increased
slightly, to an annual rate of 3.95 million in February, after rising 2.1%, to
3.94 million, in January. Although bond yields are rising, mortgage rates have
not increased enough to choke off housing demand.
Tuesday, Mar. 25, 10 a.m.EST -- The Conference Board's index of consumer
sentiment probably fell only a bit in March, to a reading of 118, from 118.4 in
February. The big surprise in the February data came in the present-situation
index, which rose from 141.2 to 143.4, a 27-year high.
DURABLE GOODS ORDERS
Wednesday, Mar. 26, 8:30 a.m.EST -- The MMS survey expects that new orders
taken by durable-goods manufacturers likely dropped 0.3% in February, following
a 4% increase in January. The backlog of unfilled orders was probably unchanged
in February after rising 1%.
NEW HOME SALES
Friday, Mar. 28, 10 a.m.EST -- New single-family homes probably sold at an
annual rate of 860,000 in February. The housing market in January surprised
almost everyone: New home sales jumped 8.6%, to an 870,000 pace, so some
fallback is expected in February.