The Week Ahead

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

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence probably rose to 66 in May, say economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. If so, that would be the third strong increase in a row. In April, consumer confidence rose by 8 points, to 64.8. Feelings about current economic conditions and the economy's future six months from now both showed improved optimism in April.

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

New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers likely increased by a small 0.5% in April, after rising 2.1% in March. However, the April gain may be a bit stronger, as suggested by the 0.7% advance in durable-goods production in April. Increasing new orders indicate that the slide in the level of unfilled orders may finally have stopped. The backlog has shrunk for seven months in a row, including a 0.7% drop in March.


The Commerce Dept.'s second look at the first-quarter economy is likely to show that real GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.5%, instead of 2% as previously calculated. A smaller liquidation of inventories and some upward revisions to outlays for nonresidential buildings should provide the extra boost to the economy. In the fourth quarter, real GDP grew at an annual rate of just 0.4%. The MMS economists expect that inflation--as measured by the GDP price deflator--rose at an annual rate of 3%, little changed from the 3.1% first reported.

CORPORATE PROFITS Friday, May 29, 8:30 a.m.

Aftertax corporate profits, reported in the same Commerce report as GDP, probably rose by 5%, say the MMS economists. Profits have been sagging for three years, but the recovery is helping to lift earnings now. In the fourth quarter, aftertax profits were virtually flat from the third quarter, but remained 4.7% below their levels of a year ago.

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