The Week Ahead

HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Sept. 22, 8:30 a.m.

New housing starts probably increased to an annual rate of 1.16 million in August, only a small pickup from July's dismal 1.12 million pace. That's the expectation of economists surveyed by mms International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The weak gain projected for August suggests that sharply lower mortgage rates are having little effect on reviving housing demand.

FEDERAL BUDGET Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2:15 p.m.

The U.S. Treasury will likely report a deficit of $36.5 billion for August, smaller than the $43.6 billion spending gap in August, 1991. That would boost the total deficit to $325 billion with one more month to go in fiscal 1992. Government receipts are suffering in the weak recovery, while outlays for social programs and interest on the debt continue to grow. In 1991, the federal deficit set a record of $269.5 billion.

DURABLE-GOODS ORDERS Friday, Sept. 25, 8:30 a.m.

New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers likely rose by about 1.4% in August, says the mms report, but the range in forecasts is wide: from a healthy 3.5% gain to a worrisome 2% decline. In July, durable-goods orders fell 3.2%, mostly because of declining aircraft demand. Even with the expected increase in new bookings in August, the level of unfilled orders likely declined for the 12th month in a row.

PERSONAL INCOME Friday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.

Personal income probably increased by just 0.3% in August, after a 0.2% advance in July. A healthy gain in wages and salaries, as suggested by last month's 1.8% jump in nonfarm weekly pay, offset declining interest income. In addition, losses to rental income from Hurricane Andrew may also show up in the August data. Consumer spending is expected to have changed little last month. A drop in retail buying likely offset increased spending on services. Consumer buying rose 0.3% in July.

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