FEDERAL BUDGET Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m.EDT -- The Treasury Dept. is likely to post a $30 billion surplus for September, when quarterly income-tax payments are made. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. The surplus is much larger than last September's $7.2 billion windfall. But that's because Sept. 1, 1996, fell on a Sunday, so many of this September's transfer payments were made in August. The expected surplus would mean that the government deficit totaled $114 billion for the entire 1996 fiscal year, ended on Sept. 30. That would be the smallest red-ink total since 1981. INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS Thursday, Oct. 24, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- New filings for state unemployment benefits likely jumped to about 335,000 for the week ended on Oct. 19. Filings had fallen to 319,000 in the first week of October, the lowest rate since late July and August. But the General Motors Corp. strike in Canada has spilled over to GM's U.S. operations, causing the idling of about 10,000 workers in Michigan and New York. Once the strike is over, claims should head lower. DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Friday, Oct. 25, 8:30 a.m.EDT -- The MMS survey projects that new orders for durable goods increased 1.5% in September, recouping about half of a 3.2% fall in bookings in August. The backlog of unfilled orders likely increased in September, after slipping 0.3% in August. EXISTING HOME SALES Friday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m.EDT -- Sales of existing homes probably dipped again in September. The median MMS forecast expects that resales fell to an annual rate of 4.1 million, from 4.3 million in August. If so, existing home sales will have fallen for four consecutive months. However, they still remain above year-ago levels. And the recent drop in long-term mortgage rates may spur new demand in the fourth quarter--or at least hold sales steady.
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