Business Week Index: The Week Ahead
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE 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. NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES 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. CORPORATE PROFITS 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. FACTORY INVENTORIES 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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