The Week Ahead

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Tuesday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.

Spending on building projects probably advanced by a small 0.4% in July, according to economists polled by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. However, the increase may be higher than expected, as indicated by the 7% gain in new construction contracts in July, reported by McGraw-Hill's F. W. Dodge Div. In June, construction spending rose by only 0.3%, as weakness in nonresidential building offset gains elsewhere.

NAPM SURVEY Tuesday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.

The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of industrial activity likely edged up to 52.5% in August from 51.8% in July, say MMS economists. If so, August would be the third month in which the index indicated that the factory sector was expanding. Of interest to forecasters will be the NAPM's reading on inventories for August. They have already fallen for 32 months in a row.

CAPITAL SPENDING Thursday, Sept. 5, 8:30 a.m.

The Commerce Dept.'s survey of capital-spending plans, taken in July and August, may show that budget plans have been cut back for the second half of 1991. In the report taken in April and May, spending was slated to increase by 2.8% in the second half, after an expected rise of 1.5% in the first two quarters, before inflation adjustments. However, business investment actually fell in the first half, according to Commerce's reading of the gross national product. This suggests that outlays for new plants and equipment are much softer than first thought.

EMPLOYMENT Friday, Sept. 6, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS consensus expects that nonfarm payrolls rose by a percentage point, to 6.8%, in July.

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