The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Dec. 20, 8:30 a.m. The foreign trade deficit for goods and services 
      probably narrowed slightly in October, to $9.9 billion, from September's $10.1 
      billion. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS 
      International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Merchandise exports likely 
      rebounded after slipping 0.5% in September, but imports, up for five 
      consecutive months, remained high. Trade will improve in 1995 as demand for 
      imports softens.
      Tuesday, Dec. 20  Policymakers at the Federal Reserve will sit down for the 
      Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Almost all of the economists polled by 
      MMS expect the Fed to keep interest rates on hold, with the federal funds rate 
      at 5.5% and the discount rate at 4.75%. Both rates were lifted by 
      three-quarters of a point on Nov. 15.
      Wednesday, Dec. 21   The Treasury Dept. will probably report a deficit of $35 
      billion for November, less than the $38.4 billion in November, 1993.
      Friday, Dec. 23, 8:30 a.m.  The MMS forecast is that new orders for durable 
      goods rose by 1% in November. If so, that would reverse the 1% drop that 
      bookings took in October. Unfilled orders were likely flat, after rising 0.3% 
      in October. Weak aircraft ordering has held down the backlog for all 
      durable-goods manufacturers.
      Friday, Dec. 23, 8:30 a.m. Personal income probably rose 0.3% in November, 
      after jumping 1.4% in October. Healthier job growth and long work hours boosted 
      paychecks, and higher rates are lifting interest income. The MMS economists 
      forecast that consumer spending advanced a sturdy 0.5% in November, on top of a 
      0.7% gain in October. Unusually warm weather in November probably reduced 
      energy demand, but retail sales were solid.

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