You Read It Here First

Never let it be said we don't have the spine to make a prediction or two for the New Year. Here are 10 for 1994:

FED RATE HIKES. Everybody knows that the inflation-obsessed Federal Reserve is going to raise short-term rates. But when, and by how much? By

March, after Chairman Alan Greenspan's mandatory testimony on Capitol Hill. To avoid squelching the recovery, the bump in the federal-funds rate will be no more than half a point, to 3.5%. That should enable the Fed to take the rest of the year off.

STOCK MARKET. Investors may yet talk themselves into that long-dreaded correction, but it will be brief. And it won't keep the Dow from hitting a high of 4200 for the year. At an increase ef about 10% over yearend 1993, that ain't too shabby.

HEALTH CARE. By Labor Day, President Bill Clinton will sign

a historic health-care-reform bill that won't much

resemble the original 1,342-page draft. Gone will be caps on insurance premiums, government-run health alliances, and other costly Washington-knows-best dictums. How-ever, no one will be de-

nied coverage because of preexisting medical conditions.

BIOTECH. Scientists will identify the gene involved in breast cancer, pointing the way to more precise and effective treatment for the disease.

TELECOM. Cablevision Systems will sell out to Baby Bell U S West in yet another billion-dollar alliance of phone and cable companies. Also in the deal: Time Warner, the nation's second-largest cable operator (Cablevision is No.5). The two cable giants give Englewood (Colo.)-based US West a rock-solid foothold in the Northeast. Yet unlike the Bell Atlantic-Tele-Communications union, where TCI Chief Executive John Malone is staying on as second-in-command, Cablevision founder Charles Dolan, 68, won't stick around.

WAL-MART. Wal-Mart Stores, after conquering small-town America with its low-price strategy, will continue to expand aggressively in Mexico. And then? Go East, discount shoppers: The Pacific Rim is the next target.

ENTERTAINMENT. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't cover himself with glory in last summer's Last Action Hero, which generated a so-so (for Ah-nuld) $55 million in domestic ticket sales. The muscled one, however, will make a big comeback this coming summer (read: $100 million and counting) in True Lies.

DETROIT. By yearend, one in three consumers will be leasing that new car instead of buying it. That's up from about one in eight in 1985.

UNITED AIR LINES. Aided by union concessions that lop 15% off labor costs, United will, at long last, make money even though it must lower fares to entice passengers.

MIDTERM ELECTIONS. This year will follow historical trends closely, so Clinton will see erosion in his party's hold on Congress. Look for Democrats to show a net loss of about 15 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate. That means Clinton will find it a bit tougher to cobble together coalitions for his program.