Business Week Index: The Week Ahead
HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, May 16, 8:30 a.m. -- Housing starts probably rebounded a bit in April, to an annual rate of 1.28 million, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. A drop in fixed mortgage rates temporarily boosted home buying. The April rise would be the first increase in homebuilding since December. In March, starts plunged a surprising 7.9%, to a 1.21 million pace. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION Tuesday, May 16, 9:15 a.m. -- Output at the nation's mines, utilities, and factories probably dropped 0.4% in April, after slipping 0.3% in March. That would be the first back-to-back decline in two years. The April drop is indicated by the fall in factory jobs and work time, especially overtime. Auto makers probably led the cutbacks in manufacturing output, but the weakness was widespread. Operating rates likely also slipped lower last month. The MMS forecast expects that the capacity utilization rate fell to 84.3% in April, from 84.9%. INTERNATIONAL TRADE Thursday, May 18, 8:30 a.m. -- The trade deficit for goods and services was probably little changed in March, from February's $9 billion. The MMS economists expect little change in either exports, which rose 2.4% in February, or imports, down 2% in February. However, because foreign-made goods accounted for some of the inventory buildup in the first quarter, imports may have fallen in March. That would mean some narrowing in the trade deficit. FEDERAL BUDGET Friday, May 19 -- The U.S. Treasury is expected to report a surplus of $38 billion for April. That's more than double the $17.5 billion surplus reported in April, 1994. Stronger income growth last year boosted individual tax payments due by Apr. 17, and the second installment of the 1993 tax hike on the wealthy was expected to bring in an additional $4.2 billion.
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