The Week Ahead
BUSINESS INVENTORIES Monday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m. -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are expected to show a 0.4% increase in July, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of the McGraw-Hill Cos. Stock levels had risen 0.2% in June. If the projection is on the mark, inventories would begin the third quarter rising slightly less than their average second-quarter pace, suggesting that businesses continue to rein in their inventory growth. HOUSING STARTS Tuesday, Sept. 19, 8:30 a.m. -- Builders broke ground on new homes at an annual rate of 1.38 million units in August, the same as in July, say the forecasters. July starts had surged to the highest level of the year, as lower interest rates boosted sales. INTERNATIONAL TRADE Wednesday, Sept. 20, 8:30 a.m. -- The trade deficit for goods and services is expected to have narrowed a bit in July, to $10.9 billion, from $11.3 billion in June, say the economists. If so, the trade gap would begin the third quarter a shade below the second-quarter average, so trade may not be as big a drag on economic growth as it was in the second quarter. July exports are expected to have advanced, while imports apparently held steady. FEDERAL BUDGET Friday, Sept. 22 -- The federal budget for August is expected to have been in deficit by $28 billion, up from August, 1994's red ink of $24.3 billion. The deficit for the first 10 months of the fiscal year totaled $133.9 billion. The August projection would bring the deficit's 12-month moving sum to $161.1 billion, suggesting that the budget gap is on target to hit the Congressional Budget Office's latest projection of $161 billion. That would bring the deficit down to 2.3% of gross domestic product, the lowest in relation to the size of the economy since 1979. Improvement in the most recent years stems mainly from increased receipts, reflecting the strength of the economy.
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