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The Week Ahead


Business Week Index

THE WEEK AHEAD

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Monday, Dec. 15, 9:15 a.m. EST -- Industrial output likely increased a strong

0.6% in November, on top of a 0.5% jump in October. That's the median forecast

of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

The average operating rate for industry probably edged up to 84.5%, from 84.3%

in October.

HOUSING STARTS

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Housing starts probably fell slightly to an

annual rate of 1.49 million in November. In October, starts unexpectedly rose

1.4%, to a 1.53 million pace. Strong job growth and income gains are fueling

housing demand.

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Consumer prices for all goods and services

likely increased 0.2% in November, the same gain posted in October. Similarly,

core prices, which exclude food and energy, likely rose 0.2% in November, the

same as in October.

FOMC MEETING

Tuesday, Dec. 16 -- The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will

likely hold short-term interest rates steady. Unlike the unanimous MMS survey

before the Nov. 12 meeting, however, the forecast for no rate hike is divided.

At least one economist expects the Fed to raise the federal funds rate by a

quarter point, to 5.75%.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Thursday, Dec. 18, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The trade deficit was likely little changed

in October, from September's $11.1 billion gap. Both exports and imports

probably rose slightly. In September, exports fell 0.7%, while imports

increased 1.2%. Trade has been a drag on growth even before the Asian crisis

threatened to curtail U.S. exports, and it will likely hurt growth in 1998.

FEDERAL BUDGET

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. EST -- The Treasury Dept. is likely to report a

budget deficit of $27.9 billion for November, says the MMS survey. That's $10

billion less than the gap of November, 1996.


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