Business Week Index: The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Mar. 28, 10 a.m.  --  The Conference Board's index of consumer 
      confidence probably fell to areading of 97.3 in March, from 99 in February. 
      That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a 
      division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The decline is suggested by thereported fall in 
      the University of Michigan's preliminary survey of consumer sentiment for 
      March. The expected dip in March would mean that the confidence index has 
      fallen for three consecutive months. Consumers are growing more worried about 
      job prospects now that the economy shows signs of softness inresponse to the 
      interest-rate hikes by the Federalreserve.
      Wednesday, Mar. 29, 10 a.m.  --  The MMS economists expect that new-home sales 
      fell to an annualrate of 650,000 in February, from a 679,000 pace in January. 
      The decline is indicated by the fall in single-family housing starts. However, 
      because of therecent drop in long-termrates, mortgage applications to buy a 
      home haverisen in February and early March. So, even if sales fell in February, 
      they mayrebound temporarily in March or April.
      Friday, Mar. 31, 8:30 a.m.  --  Along with its finalrevision to fourth-quarter 
      economic growth--expected toremain at an annualrate of 4.6%--the Commerce Dept. 
      will alsoreport on corporate earnings. Aftertax corporate profits in the fourth 
      quarter likely increased by 3.3% from the third quarter, say the MMS 
      economists. That would be about 12% above the level of profits in the last 
      quarter of 1993.
      Friday, Mar. 31, 10 a.m.  --  Manufacturing inventories probably changed little 
      in February after they jumped an unexpected 1% in January. That's indicated by 
      the slowdown in the growth of factory output. Sluggish consumer demand is 
      prompting manufacturers to cut back on production and stock levels.

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