The Week Ahead

      Monday, Oct. 16, 10 a.m. -- Inventories held by manufacturers, wholesalers, and 
      retailers probably rose a small 0.2% in August, according to the median 
      forecast of economists surveyed by MMS International, one of The McGraw-Hill 
      Companies. Inventories rose 0.3% in July. Business sales likely increased a 
      healthy 1.5%, after falling 1.2% in July. That's indicated by the increases 
      already reported by manufacturers and retailers.
      Tuesday, Oct. 17, 9:15 a.m. -- The MMS forecast is that output at U.S. 
      factories, mines, and utilities was probably unchanged in September from 
      August's level. That's suggested by the flat reading of total hours worked in 
      the manufacturing sector last month. Output jumped 1.2% in August, helped by 
      increased auto and truck production. Operating rates for all industry likely 
      stood at 84% last month, down from 84.3% in August.
      Wednesday, Oct. 18, 8:30 a.m. -- The foreign trade deficit for goods and 
      services probably narrowed slightly, to $11 billion in August, projects the 
      median MMS forecast. The July trade gap stood at a large $11.5 billion. 
      Exports, which have fallen for two consecutive months, likely rebounded. 
      Imports, also down for two months in a row, probably were a bit higher in 
      August as well. Foreign trade continues to be a severe barrier to U.S. economic 
      Thursday, Oct. 19, 8:30 a.m. -- The MMS survey projects that housing starts 
      were little changed in September, from August's annual rate of 1.4 million. 
      Starts in August were only slightly ahead of July's pace. But single-family 
      homebuilding showed more strength, rising by 1.4% in August. As consumers begin 
      to worry again about job prospects, mortgage applications to buy a home have 
      flattened out. That means home buying and construction should weaken this 

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