The Week Ahead

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE Tuesday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence probably dropped to about 59 in November from 60.4 in October, say economists polled by McGraw-Hill Inc.'s MMS International unit. But that small decline would follow a sharp 12.5 point fall in the index in October. The November forecast is suggested by the preliminary report from the University of Michigan that its survey of consumer sentiment also fell in November. Worries about future job layoffs and sluggish income growth is furrowing consumer brows. The expected index would be the lowest reading on consumer confidence since the Persian Gulf war, and it would suggest that retail sales will be dismal during the Christmas shopping season.

DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Wednesday, Nov. 27, 8:30 a.m.

New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers likely rose by 1% in October, say the MMS economists. Demand for autos and defense equipment likely lifted the October numbers. Orders had jumped by 11.7% in July but then fell by 4.1% in August and 3.2% in September. Those declines in new demand suggest that the backlog of unfilled orders was probably little changed in October, after falling 0.7% in September. A smaller backlog means industrial output will make little headway in coming months.

PERSONAL INCOME Wednesday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m.

The MMS economists expect that personal income increased by just 0.1% in October, after growing 0.5% in September. However, wages and salaries probably declined, and falling interest rates likely dragged down interest income in October as well. Drops in those two major income categories may mean a decline in the total earnings number. The MMS consensus also calls for a 0.2% increase in consumer spending in October, following a 0.9% surge in September. Gains in service purchases will offset an expected decline in spending on goods. In particular, car buying, which led the September gain, fell back in October.

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