NAPM SURVEY Monday, Apr. 3, 10 a.m. The National Association of Purchasing Management's business activity index probably fell to 53.9% in March, from 54.5% in February. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Analysts will want to see whether the NAPM's price index fell for the third straight month. From May to December, the index surged as purchasers reported paying higher prices for materials. CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Tuesday, Apr. 4, 8:30 a.m. Construction spending probably fell by 0.5% in February, after dipping 0.2% in January. The decline is suggested by a 2.6% drop in housing starts in February. LEADING INDICATORS Wednesday, Apr. 5, 8:30 a.m. The government's composite index of leading indicators probably slipped a small 0.1% in February, forecast the MMS economists. Over the past five months, the index has barely moved from month to month. In January, it was unchanged from December. EMPLOYMENT Friday, Apr. 7, 8:30 a.m. The MMS survey forecasts that nonfarm payrolls grew by 210,000 jobs in March, after 318,000 were created in February. However, the growth in factory jobs is expected to continue to slow. The median forecast calls for a rise of just 20,000 factory jobs last month, down from 27,000 slots in February and 44,000 new hires in January. The March unemployment rate probably rose to 5.5%, from 5.4% in February. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Friday, Apr. 7 Consumers probably added a modest $6.5 billion in new debt in February. A month ago, the Federal Reserve originally said that credit rose just $3.7 billion in January. But after correcting an error in the miscellaneous debt category, the Fed revised the January number to a larger rise of $7.6 billion.
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