Business Week Index
THE WEEK AHEAD
EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 8:30 a.m. EST -- Employment costs for civilian workers
probably increased 0.8% in the fourth quarter, the same gain posted in the
third period, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS
International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The small advance would mean
that compensation costs rose 3% in 1997, just slightly above the 2.9% growth in
1996. However, if the monthly data on hourly wages are any guide, the wage and
salary component of the ECI may have increased by at least 1% last quarter,
even as benefit costs remained tame. That would push the overall ECI higher.
With labor markets tight, compensation costs are likely to post bigger gains in
1998, putting the squeeze on profit margins.
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. EST -- The Conference Board's index of consumer
confidence probably slipped to 132 in January, after jumping more than six
points in December, to 134.5.
DURABLE GOODS ORDERS
Wednesday, Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m.EST -- Durable goods orders likely fell 2.3% in
December, says the MMS forecast. In November, new bookings unexpectedly jumped
4.8%, led by an increase in airplane orders. Excluding aircraft, demand for
durable goods dropped in both October and November.
REAL GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
Friday, Jan. 30 8:30 a.m. EST -- The median MMS forecast projects that real
gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in the fourth quarter,
after a 3.1% advance in the third period. If so, then the economy grew at a
robust 3.7% pace for all of 1997. Consumer spending increased moderately last
quarter, while foreign trade and housing most likely added some muscle to
fourth-quarter output. Inflation, as measured by the GDP price index, probably
stood at an annual rate of 1.6% in the fourth quarter, up from 1.4% in the