The Week Ahead

EMPLOYMENT COSTS Tuesday, July 28, 8:30 a.m.

Employment costs for civilian workers probably rose by about 0.8% in the second quarter, say economists polled by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. In the first quarter, compensation was up by 0.9%. The expected mild increase would place second-quarter labor costs just 3.4% above their pace of a year earlier. As in the past, increases in benefits last quarter continued to outpace the gains in wages.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE Tuesday, July 28, 10 a.m.

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence likely slipped to 70 in July, from 71.7 in June. Blame it more on the election than on the economy--although June's jump in the unemployment rate to 7.8% also raised jitters.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT Thursday, July 30, 8:30 a.m.

The MMS consensus expects that the economy grew at a sluggish 1.8% annual rate in the second quarter, after rising at a more respectable 2.7% clip in the first. The sharp deterioration in the foreign-trade sector, however, argues that the economy may have grown even slower last quarter. The economists also expect that inflation, as measured by the GDP price deflator, stood at a 3% annual rate in the second quarter, down from 3.1% in the first.

NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES Thursday, July 30, 10 a.m.

New homes likely sold at a 523,000 annual rate in June, up from 501,000 in May.

PERSONAL INCOME Friday, July 31, 10 a.m.

Personal income was probably flat in June, following a 0.3% gain in May. Declines in jobs and weekly pay suggest wages and salaries were weak. Consumer spending likely rose by 0.4% in June, after a 0.5% increase in May.

FACTORY INVENTORIES Friday, July 31, 10 a.m.

Manufacturing inventories probably rose by 0.3% in June, the same as in May.

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