Business Week Index: The Week Ahead
FOMC MEETING Tuesday, May 23 The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee will probably keep monetary policy on hold at their meeting. That's the consensus view of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill Companies. That means that the federal funds rate will remain at 6%. The Fed has not raised rates since Feb. 1. And given the broad evidence that the economy is slowing, monetary policy could remain on hold until at least fall. DURABLE GOODS ORDERS Wednesday, May 24, 8:30 a.m. New orders taken by durable-goods manufacturers probably fell by 0.5% in April, according to the median forecast of the MMS survey. That would reverse the 0.5% advance in orders in March. The April decline is suggested by the steep 0.8% drop in durable-goods output already reported. Most of the weakness is concentrated in motor vehicles. The backlog of unfilled orders was probably flat after increasing 0.5% in both February and March. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS Thursday, May 25, 8:30 a.m. New claims for state unemployment insurance benefits likely fell to an annual rate of 350,000 for the week ended May 20. Filings took a surprise jump at the end of April, rising to 371,000. And they remained at 365,000 for the week of May 6. The four-week moving average of jobless claims is hovering near 360,000--a very high level given the solid growth in the economy and an unemployment rate below 6%. EXISTING HOME SALES Thursday, May 25, 8:45 a.m. Sales of existing homes were probably little changed in April after rising 5.8% in March, to an annual rate of 3.62 million. The bond rally has pushed down fixed mortgage rates to below 8% in some areas. Those cheaper loans have meant a rush of buyers who otherwise could not afford a home. Still, homebuying in this business cycle probably peaked in 1994.
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