Business Week Index: The Week Ahead
HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Apr. 18, 8:30 a.m. March housing starts are expected to have risen to an annual rate of 1.35 million, up from 1.32 million in February. That's the median projection of a survey of economists by MMS International, a unit of McGraw-Hill Inc. Mild weather, which also inflated March construction employment, will buoy the starts number. Weak demand and downbeat builders' surveys suggest little strength this spring, though. INTERNATIONAL TRADE Wednesday, Apr. 19, 8:30 a.m. The MMS survey expects the February balance of trade in goods and services to post a deficit of $10.2 billion, less than January's $12.2 billion gap. Exports are expected to rise, but they will be held back by another steep drop in shipments to Mexico. Imports will also edge lower, according to the survey, but by less than exports. The trade deficit is on track to exert a strong negative influence on first-quarter growth in real gross domestic product. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, Apr. 20, 8:30 a.m. New weekly claims for jobless benefits appear to be moving into the 340,000-to-350,000 range for the week of Apr. 15. The four-week average, which has been trending higher recently, stood at 342,500 at the end of March--the most in nine months. That rise reflects at least a slight easing in labor market conditions as retail sales and industrial output have slowed. FEDERAL BUDGET Friday, Apr. 21, 2 p.m. The MMS survey expects the U.S. Treasury to report a March deficit of $40 billion, up from $32.3 billion in March of last year. Even so, the federal deficit is on track to finish the year some 10% to 15% below last year's deficit of $203.3 billion. Although delays in tax refunds may be boosting receipts temporarily, the deficit may yet come in below the Congressional Budget Office's projection of $176 billion.
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