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Monday, Oct. 5 -- Sales of cars and light trucks probably increased to an annual rate of about 15.1 million in September, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Vehicle sales in July and August came in at just 13.8 million and 14.4 million, respectively, held down by the end of dealer incentives and the General Motors Corp. strike. The healthy bounceback in September reflects a new wave of very generous incentives plus greater availability of GM models following the end of the strike in late July. Auto makers will begin releasing their sales data on Oct. 1, but the total number will be unknown until Ford Motor Co. releases its sales figures on Oct. 5.NAPM SURVEY

Monday, Oct 5, 10 a.m.EDT -- The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of nonmanufacturing activity likely fell to about 51% in September, from 52% in August. With the Asian crisis hurting the factory side of the economy, the year-old index will likely gain increased notice from the financial markets since it is one of the few indicators covering the service sector.INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3 p.m.EDT -- The S&P MMS forecast expects that consumer credit increased by $5 billion in August, following a $5.3 billion gain in July. Household borrowing had slowed earlier in 1998, but picked up in the summer. Consequently, installment credit outstanding once again equals 21% of disposable income, a record high ratio.UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

Thursday, Oct. 8, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New claims for state unemployment benefits probably totaled about 300,000 for the week ended Oct. 3. Weekly new claims have been near 300,000 since mid-August. The low number of filings continues to suggest that the labor markets remain quite tight even with the slowdown in manufacturing.

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