Tuesday, Oct. 20, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- The U.S. trade deficit for goods and services probably rose to $15 billion in August, projects the median forecast of economists surveyed by Standard & Poor's MMS, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. In July, the deficit widened to $13.9 billion, but it had hit a record peak of $15.8 billion in May. Exports, which have risen in only one month so far in 1998, probably dropped further in August as the Asian financial chaos spread to other nations. Imports, down just 0.8% in July, probably increased. The Asian collapse plus a strong dollar has sharply curtailed U.S. exports. As a result, foreign trade subtracted almost three percentage points from real gross domestic product growth in the first half, and it is likely to be a further drag on the economy in the second half as well.
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8:30 a.m. EDT -- Housing starts probably slipped to an annual rate of 1.6 million in September, from 1.61 million in August, says the S&P MMS survey. That's suggested by a drop in construction jobs last month and a small decline in the Housing Market Index compiled by the National Association of Home Builders. Even so, housing remains one of the strongest sectors of the economy. Lower mortgage rates still make home ownership quite attractive.
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m.EDT -- The U.S. Treasury will probably report a surplus of about $40 billion in September, says the S&P MMS median forecast. That's smaller than the $49.9 billion reported in September, 1997. The expected monthly windfall, however, means that for fiscal 1998, which ended on Sept. 30, the federal government posted a surplus of about $70 billion. That's exactly the figure publicized by the White House. Tax receipts from capital gains helped to boost the black ink. But with equity prices falling since July, that tax windfall may not reappear this year. Congress and the White House are still hammering out a budget for fiscal 1999.