The Week Ahead

FEDERAL BUDGET Wednesday, July 22

The U.S. government will likely report a small $1 billion surplus for June, say economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. The federal budget is usually in surplus in June because quarterly tax payments by corporations and some individuals boost revenues. However, problems in payments made by the Resolution Trust Corp. last year caused a $2.6 billion deficit in June, 1991.

INITIAL UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, July 23, 8:30 a.m.

New filings for state unemployment benefits may very well bounce up to an annual rate of 430,000 for the week ended July 11. But that is because many economists expect jobless claims to fall close to 400,000 for the week ended July 4, when state offices were closed to observe Independence Day. On a four-week moving average, which smooths out the trend in claims, people continue to file for benefits at a 410,000 rate--a level consistent with an extremely mild recovery. In addition, the plateau in jobless claims suggests little improvement in the nation's 7.8% unemployment rate.

CAR SALES Thursday, July 23

New domestically made cars likely sold at an annual rate of 6.8 million during mid-July. Sales surged to a 7.5 million pace in late June, and then came in at a 6.5 million clip in early July. Despite the lackluster performance in other retail buying, consumers still seem willing to head to car dealers, kick a few tires, and buy or lease a new car.

DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Friday, July 24, 8:30 a.m.

New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers likely increased by 1% in June, after a 2.1% drop in May, say the MMS forecasters. The gain will be led by a pickup in auto demand and defense orders. The expected rise in new demand probably wasn't strong enough to reverse the downturn in unfilled orders. The backlog of orders has dropped for nine consecutive months.

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