FEDERAL BUDGET Tuesday, Mar. 21 The U.S. Treasury is expected to report a budget deficit of about $40 billion for February, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. In February, 1994, the red ink totaled $41.6 billion. While Congress and the White House battle over balancing future budgets, progress is being made in holding down the deficit for fiscal 1995, which began in October. With the expected February number, the deficit for the first five months is running some 16% below the same period of fiscal 1994, when the deficit ended the entire year at $203.6 billion, a five-year low. Because of the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act and a healthier economy, federal tax receipts are growing at a faster pace than government outlays. INTERNATIONAL TRADE Wednesday, Mar. 22, 8:30 a.m. The trade deficit for all goods and services probably widened in January, to about $8.5 billion, from an unexpectedly low $7.34 billion in December. Exports, which rose 3.2% in December, likely slipped back in January, forecast the MMS economists. Meanwhile, imports probably rose slightly in January, after falling 1% in December. Despite the expected widening for January, the trade deficit is forecast to improve during the course of 1995. DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Friday, Mar. 24, 8:30 a.m. The MMS survey forecasts that new orders for durable goods likely fell by 0.5% in February. That would follow three consecutive increases, including a 1.1% gain in January. The backlog of unfilled orders probably continued to rise last month. The backlog has risen for five months in a row. EXISTING HOME SALES Friday, Mar. 24, 8:45 a.m. Sales of existing homes probably fell to an annual rate of 3.4 million in February, following a 4.5% slide in January, to a 3.59 million pace. That is suggested by the decline in mortgage applications to buy a home.
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