The Week Ahead

LEADING INDICATORS Tuesday, Sept. 29, 8:30 a.m.

The government's composite index of leading indicators, designed to forecast the economy's path, probably rose by just 0.1% in August, the same small gain as in July. That's the expectation of economists surveyed by mms International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc.

NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.

New homes likely sold at a 580,000 annual rate in August. That's up from 563,000 in July and would be the fastest rate since February. The 8.5% jump in single-family housing starts in August and the high level of mortgage applications for home purchase indicate that home buying is picking up steam.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING Thursday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.

Construction spending probably rose by a modest 0.8% in August, after falling for two consecutive months, including a 0.6% drop in July.

NAPM SURVEY Thursday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.

The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of business activity likely edged up to 54% in September, from 53.7% in August, says the mms report. The expected reading suggests that the industrial sector is growing -- but just barely.

EMPLOYMENT Friday, Oct. 2, 8:30 a.m.

Nonfarm payrolls should fall by 48,000 jobs in September, say the mms forecasters. But Hurricane Andrew and the end of a federal summer-jobs program for teenagers will cause the decline. Still, hiring seems dead in the water. In August, employment fell by 83,000. The jobless rate is expected to rise to 7.7% in September, from 7.6% in August.

FACTORY INVENTORIES Friday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m.

A drop in factory output suggests that manufacturing inventories were probably little changed in August. In July, inventories were also flat.

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