The Week Ahead

LEADING INDICATORS Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8:30 a.m.

The government's index of leading indicators probably fell slightly in August, after increasing for six consecutive months, according to economists polled by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International unit. The August drop is suggested by declines in the money supply, consumer expectations, and building permits.

NAPM SURVEY Tuesday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.

The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of industrial activity for September is expected to be unchanged from the August reading of 54.8%. The index has been above 50% since June, suggesting that the factory sector has been in recovery since then.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Tuesday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.

Building outlays probably fell by 0.4% in August after jumping 1.6% in July. Nonresidential construction, up 0.8% in July, probably fell back in August. That offset strength in homebuilding.

NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m.

New homes probably sold at an annual rate of about 480,000 in August, say the MMS economists. That would be a small gain from the 472,000 rate in July. Lower mortgage rates in September suggest buying increased again last month.

FACTORY INVENTORIES Thursday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m.

Manufacturing inventories were likely unchanged in August, after falling 0.6% in July. Factory orders probably fell by about 2.5% in August, after surging 6.2% in July.

EMPLOYMENT Friday, Oct. 4, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS survey says that nonfarm payrolls increased by only 54,000 in September, after a small rise of 34,000 in August. However, that would be the first back-to-back rise in jobs since May and June, 1990. The unemployment rate is expected to increase to 6.9% in September, from 6.8% in August.

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