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The Week Ahead


Monday, Jan. 4, 10 a.m. EST -- The National Association of Purchasing Management's industrial index probably increased to 47.1% in December, from 46.8% in November, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Despite the expected increase, a reading below 50% suggests that the industrial sector is still contracting. Falling foreign demand is hitting U.S. manufacturers.CONSTRUCTION SPENDING

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 10 a.m. EST -- Building outlays probably increased 0.4% in November, after rising 0.3% in both September and October. The unseasonably warm weather helped to boost activity.NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 10 a.m. EST -- New homes probably sold at an annual rate of 858,000 in November, says the S&P MMS survey. That is suggested by a survey of homebuilders. In October, sales rose 0.8%--to 851,000 on an annual basis.FACTORY INVENTORIES

Thursday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m. EST -- Manufacturers likely trimmed their inventories by 0.2% in November, after a large 0.6% gain in October. Factory orders likely rose 0.6%, following a 1.6% plunge in October.EMPLOYMENT

Friday, Jan. 8, 8:30 a.m. EST -- The S&P MMS median forecast calls for a 200,000 gain in nonfarm jobs in December, following an unexpectedly large 267,000 increase in November. Factory payrolls, however, probably shed an additional 25,000 last month, on top of 47,000 lost in November. That would bring the total of factory workers laid off in 1998 to more than 230,000. The unemployment rate is expected to have edged up to 4.5%, from 4.4% in November.INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Friday, Jan. 8, 3 p.m. EST -- Consumer debt likely grew by $7 billion in November, on top of a huge $9.7 billion added in October.

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