Business Outlook


Tuesday, Aug. 24

Sales of domestically made cars and light trucks probably did not show much change in mid-August from their disappointing pace early in the month. For the first 10 selling days, new vehicles sold at an annual rate of 10.3 million, down from 11.5 million in all of July. The good news for manufacturers, though, is that the weak sales may reflect low inventories that are forcing some to wait on buying a new car.


Wednesday, Aug. 25, 8:30 a.m.

New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers probably fell by 3.5% in July, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Durable goods shipments likely fell 2.5% in July, after rising 2.3% in June. Orders rose 3.8% in June but had fallen in each of the three previous months. The expected decline in new orders ensures that unfilled orders in July fell for the fifth consecutive month.


Wednesday, Aug. 25, 10 a.m.

The MMS economists forecast that the housing market continues to strengthen as mortgage rates fall and the employment outlook solidifies. Sales of existing homes likely rose to an annual rate of 3.75 million in July. That would be up from a 3.69 million pace in June and would be the best sales performance in six months. The increase in resales is suggested in part by the July surge in mortgage applications.


Thursday, Aug. 26, 8:30 a.m.

New filings for state unemployment benefits probably fell to 330,000 for the week ended August 21. That pace would be little changed from the 332,000 claims filed in the first week of August. But it would be a sharp improvement from the rate in the last two weeks of July, when claims averaged 365,000. Back then, many autoworkers filed for benefits to cover layoff periods while factories closed for model changeovers.