HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Apr. 16, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- Housing starts probably fell back to an annual rate of 1.45 million in March, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Homebuilding stayed remarkably high over the winter months. Starts rose 1.5% in January and 3% in February, to a 1.49 million pace. Now, however, higher mortgage rates have reduced demand. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Tuesday, Apr. 16, 9:15 a.m.EDT -- Output at the nation's factories, mines, and utilities probably fell by 0.4% in March, says the MMS forecast. That's suggested by the weakness in the March report from the National Association of Purchasing Management, the drop in manufacturing payrolls, and the strike at General Motors Corp. Industrial production bounced back 1.2% in February, after the blizzard cut output in January. Operating rates for all industry likely slipped to 82.4% in March, from 82.9% in February. PHILADELPHIA FED SURVEY Thursday, Apr. 18, 10 a.m.EDT -- The financial markets have begun to notice the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's survey of area businesses because it is one of the earliest readings of each month's economic activity. The bond market rallied when the Mar. 21 report said that the March general economic index fell to -0.1, meaning slightly more businesses saw a slowdown than reported better growth. TREASURY BUDGET Friday, Apr. 19, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Treasury Dept. will probably report a deficit of $44.5 billion in March, says the median MMS forecast. That's better than the $50.5 billion shortfall in March, 1995. However, the deficit could be higher because the government is still playing catch-up in outlays after the last shutdown, and tax refunds are running above last year's levels. Still, the budget deficit seems on track to total about $150 billion for fiscal 1996, which ends in September.
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