Business Week Index: The Week Ahead

      Tuesday, Apr. 25, 8:30 a.m.  Labor costs for workers in private industry 
      probably increased by 0.7% in the first quarter, the same small gain as in the 
      fourth quarter of 1994. If so, the cost of total wages and benefits would have 
      risen just 2.9% in the year ended in the first quarter, the slowest growth in 
      compensation in almost eight years. Increases in both wages and benefits are 
      Tuesday, Apr. 25, 10 a.m.  The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence 
      likely slipped to 100 in April, from a reading of 101 in March. That's the 
      median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of 
      McGraw-Hill Inc. Consumers have become increasingly worried about the economy's 
      performance six months down the road. The expectations index has fallen for 
      three consecutive months. The assessment of present business conditions has 
      continued to rise, bolstered by healthy job markets.
      Friday, Apr. 28, 8:30 a.m.  The MMS median forecast projects that the real 
      gross domestic product grew at a 2.7% annual rate in the first quarter. That's 
      about half of the 5.1% pace in the fourth quarter. Consumer spending and 
      residential construction slowed, but inventory accumulation continued to barrel 
      along. A big wild card will be foreign trade, which could subtract 
      substantially from real GDP growth. Inflation last quarter, as measured by the 
      GDP price deflator, probably rose 2.7% at an annual rate, not much different 
      from the fourth quarter.
      Friday, Apr. 28, 8:30 a.m.  New orders taken by durable goods manufacturers 
      probably dropped by 0.5% in March, after falling 0.8% in February. That would 
      be the first back-to-back decline in the data in two years. Weakening demand 
      for consumer durable goods is dampening overall factory orders.

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