The Week Ahead
BUSINESS INVENTORIES 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. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION 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. INTERNATIONAL TRADE 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 growth. HOUSING STARTS 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 winter.
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