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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