The Week Ahead
NEW HOME SALES Monday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. -- Sales of new single-family homes likely fell in October to an annualrate of 685,000, says the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Sales in September were 703,000. With mortgagerates up sharply from last year, fewer households can afford to buy a new home. Single-family housing starts fell 7.4% in October, and buildersreport weaker buyer traffic this autumn. VEHICLE SALES Monday, Dec. 5 -- Sales of U.S.-made cars and light trucks were probably little changed in November from October's annualrate of 13.1 million, says the MMS survey. Purchases of motor vehicles peaked in the first quarter. And some auto makers are starting to lower their production schedules. General Motors Corp., for instance, announced cuts in the January production of some Cadillac models. INSTALLMENT CREDIT Wednesday, Dec. 7 -- Consumers likely continued to take on more debt in October. The MMS economists project that installment credit grew an additional $10 billion during the month. That's on top of monthly increases averaging $10.9 billion over the past six months. In September, consumers added $10.6 billion in debt. Credit cards have always been convenient for big-ticket purchases, but households are now using credit cards for even small items, since plastic is accepted by so many more outlets, such as grocery stores and discount chains. In addition, card users can accumulate such perks as frequent-flier miles andrebates when they say: "Charge it." UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, Dec. 8, 8:30 a.m. -- During the week ended Dec. 3, new claims for state unemployment benefits probablyrose to about 350,000, up from 326,000 in the week ended Nov. 19. Filings typically increase in the week after a holiday, and state offices were closed on Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving.
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