Business Week Index: The Week Ahead

      Monday, Apr. 3, 10 a.m. The National Association of Purchasing Management's 
      business activity index probably fell to 53.9% in March, from 54.5% in 
      February. That's the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS 
      International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Analysts will want to see whether the 
      NAPM's price index fell for the third straight month. From May to December, the 
      index surged as purchasers reported paying higher prices for materials.
      Tuesday, Apr. 4, 8:30 a.m.  Construction spending probably fell by 0.5% in 
      February, after dipping 0.2% in January. The decline is suggested by a 2.6% 
      drop in housing starts in February.
      Wednesday, Apr. 5, 8:30 a.m.  The government's composite index of leading 
      indicators probably slipped a small 0.1% in February, forecast the MMS 
      economists. Over the past five months, the index has barely moved from month to 
      month. In January, it was unchanged from December.
      Friday, Apr. 7, 8:30 a.m.  The MMS survey forecasts that nonfarm payrolls grew 
      by 210,000 jobs in March, after 318,000 were created in February. However, the 
      growth in factory jobs is expected to continue to slow. The median forecast 
      calls for a rise of just 20,000 factory jobs last month, down from 27,000 slots 
      in February and 44,000 new hires in January. The March unemployment rate 
      probably rose to 5.5%, from 5.4% in February.
      Friday, Apr. 7  Consumers probably added a modest $6.5 billion in new debt in 
      February. A month ago, the Federal Reserve originally said that credit rose 
      just $3.7 billion in January. But after correcting an error in the 
      miscellaneous debt category, the Fed revised the January number to a larger 
      rise of $7.6 billion.